These 7 universities in South Africa are ranked among the top 500 in the world

 ·25 Oct 2022

US News has published its latest Best Global University Ranking for 2022/23, listing 13 South African universities among the best in the world – seven of which have landed in the top 500.

The rankings looked at the top 2,000 tertiary institutions globally, ranking them with a specific focus on schools’ academic research and reputation overall and not on their separate undergraduate or graduate programs.

The 2022-2023 edition includes universities from more than 90 countries, with Chinese institutions dominating (338). This is followed by the US (280), Japan (105), the United Kingdom (92), and India (81).

Of South Africa’s 13 universities ranked, the University of Cape Town topped the local list at 125th position overall. While this makes UCT the only local university ranked within the top 150, it is down significantly from its position in 2021/22, where it ranked 109th.

Along with UCT, Wits, the University of Johannesburg, the University of Pretoria, Rhodes University, the Tshwane University of Technology and Nelson Mandela University all slipped down the rankings.

Stellenbsoch University, UKZN, Potch, the University of the Western Cape, UFS and Unisa all climbed the rankings.

The only significant change in the local list is the University of the Free State climbing to 875th position, overtaking Rhodes University, which slipped to 935th. Those universities are now ranked 10th and 11th, respectively.

In previous rankings, six local universities ranked among the top 500 in the world, but in the latest ranking North-West University (Potch) has joined the ranks at 487th position overall.

The table below outlines the top 13 universities in the country using USNews’ methodology, including the seven which rank within the top 500.

# University 2022 2023
1 University of Cape Town 109 125
2 University of Witwatersrand 212 244
3 Stellenbosch University 317 304
4 University of Kwazulu Natal 371 370
5 University of Johannesburg 417 421
6 University of Pretoria 434 452
7 North-West University 510 487
8 University of the Western Cape 729 625
9 University of South Africa 851 821
10 University of the Free State 925 875
11 Rhodes University 855 935
12 Tshwane University of Technology 954 1002
13 Nelson Mandela University 1225 1243

Global Universities

While China dominates the overall ranking in terms of the number of universities listed, US universities continue to dominate the top 10, with Harvard University again ranked number one in the world.

This is followed by MIT and Standford University, which have maintained their top spots across several university rankings published this year.

Two UK universities crack the top 10 – also familiar names: Oxford and Cambridge.

Overall Best Global Universities – Top 10

  1. Harvard University (US)
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)
  3. Stanford University (US)
  4. University of California–Berkeley (US)
  5. University of Oxford (UK)
  6. University of Washington–Seattle (US)
  7. Columbia University (US)
  8. University of Cambridge (UK)
  9. California Institute of Technology (US)
  10. Johns Hopkins University (US)

“The Best Global Universities rankings offer prospective students a valuable resource for exploring higher education options outside of their home country,” the group said. “Over the past nine years, these rankings have expanded to include more schools and more subjects while maintaining a consistent focus on institutions that prioritise academic research.”

To create a pool of 2,000 universities, US News first included the top 250 universities in the results of Clarivate’s global reputation survey. It then added any other institutions that met the minimum threshold of at least 1,250 papers published between 2016 and 2020.

The use of survey data and published information is used with a host of other data points using the following indicators and weighting:

  • Global research reputation – 12.5%
  • Regional research reputation – 12.5%
  • Publications – 10%
  • Books – 2.5%
  • Conferences – 2.5%
  • Normalized citation impact – 10%
  • Total citations – 7.5%
  • Number of publications that are among the 10% most cited – 12.5%
  • Percentage of total publications that are among the 10% most cited – 10%
  • International collaboration – relative to country – 5%
  • International collaboration – 5%
  • Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1% most cited in their respective field – 5%

Read: High-demand careers in South Africa that don’t require a university degree

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