The best universities in South Africa

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has again been ranked as the top university in South Africa according to the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-2016.

UCT also improved its position on a global scale to 120th spot, up four positions from last year. South Africa had six universities represented in the top 800.

UCT improved its overall score from 52.6 to 56.1, although well below the best placed institution – California Institute of Technology – which scored up to 95.2 points.

UCT scored really well in Industry income (92.7), and Citations (85.6), as well as in International Outlook (80.2).

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings claims to be the only global university performance tables to judge world class universities across all of their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

The rankings have the most evenly weighted spread across teaching, research and citiations, which all count for 30% of the total score.

The 13 performance indicators are grouped into five areas:

  • Teaching: the learning environment (worth 30% of the overall ranking score);
  • Research: volume, income and reputation (worth 30%);
  • Citations: research influence (worth 30%);
  • Industry income: innovation (worth 2.5%);
  • International outlook: staff, students and research (worth 7.5%).

Following UCT, Wits was ranked as South Africa’s second-best university, followed by Stellenbosch University.

Making a debut on the list is the University of KwaZulu-Natal, ranked between 401-500, the University of Pretoria, ranked between 501-600, and the University of South Africa, ranked between 601-800.

Top South African universities

2015 Rank 2014 Rank University Score
120 124 University of Cape Town 56.1
201-250 251-275 University of the Witwatersrand
301-350 276-300 Stellenbosch University
401-500 University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
501-600 University of Pretoria
601-800 University of South Africa

Other university rankings

Other global rankings, such as the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), single out citations and research done in the sciences as a headline indicator.

The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) places emphasis on university alumni and faculty members which have won international awards, and who currently hold top executive jobs.

The QS World University Rankings (QSWUR) look at indicators such as university “reputation”, or at performance in a specific field.

The Times Higher Education rankings are the fourth out of five global university rankings released for 2015. The final ranking is the Best Global Universities (BGU) ranking by

This ranking is based on data and metrics provided by Thomson Reuters InCites research analytics, and places a large focus on an institute’s research and published papers as well as cited works.

The BGU ranking is expected to be released later in October.

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The best universities in South Africa