The top universities in South Africa to study engineering, tech and science

 ·11 Apr 2022

The latest edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject has been released, ranking South African universities with engineering, tech and science courses that are among the best in the world.

The QS ranking identifies which subjects universities are particularly strong in relation to international competitors, looking specifically at academic reputation and research output.

Research citations, along with the results of major global surveys of employers and academics are also used to rank the universities.

Looking specifically at the fields of engineering, tech and science, six South African universities stand out for having some of the best courses in the world for these subjects.

The University of Cape Town carries the distinction of being the highest-ranked in all but one of the subject fields, with the University of Witwatersand and the University of Pretoria being the only South African universities ranked in the mineral and mining engineering field.

This is also the field where South Africa performs the best within the engineering sector, with Wits and UP ranking 15th and 33rd in the world here.

No South African universities were ranked in the subjects of structural and civil engineering and petroleum engineering, however.

Engineering – Chemical

Local University Global
1 University of Cape Town 201-250
2 Stellenbosch University 251-300
3 University of Pretoria 251-300
4 University of Witwatersrand 251-300
5 University of Johannesburg 351-400

Engineering – Electrical and Electronic 

Local University Global
1 University of Pretoria 301-350
2 Stellenbosch University 351-400
3 University of Cape Town 351-400

Engineering – Mechanical 

Local University Global
1 University of Cape Town 251-300
2 University of Pretoria 251-300
3 Stellenbosch University 301-350
4 University of Witwatersrand 401-450
5 University of Johannesburg 451-500

Engineering – Mineral and Mining 

Local University Global
1 University of Witwatersrand 15
2 University of Pretoria 33


Local University Global
1 University of Cape Town 451-500
2 University of Pretoria 501-520
3 University of Witwatersrand 501-520

Computer Science

Local University Global
1 University of Cape Town 351-400
2 University of Pretoria 501-550
3 Stellenbosh University 601-650

Physics and Astronomy 

Local University Global
1 University of Cape Town 251-300
2 University of Witwatersrand 401-450
3 University of Johannesburg 451-500
4 University of KwaZulu-Natal 451-500
5  Stellenbosch University 501-500


Local University Global
1 University of Cape Town 401-450
2 University of Johannesburg 451-500
3 Stellenbosch University 501-550
4 University of KwaZulu-Natal 501-550
5 University of Witwatersrand 501-550
6 University of Pretoria 551-600

Overall ranking

Nine of South Africa’s universities were ranked in the QS global rankings for 2022, led by the University of Cape Town, which ranked 226th, overall.

UCT placed well ahead of the University of the Witwatersrand, while the University of Johannesburg climbed the rankings, pipping Stellenbosch University to third spot.

University 2022 ranking 2021 ranking
University of Cape Town 226 220
University of the Witwatersrand 424 403
University of Johannesburg 434 439
Stellenbosch University 482 456
University of Pretoria 601-650 561-570
Rhodes University 801-1000 801-1000
University of KwaZulu-Natal 801-1000 801-1000
North-West University 1001-1200 1001+
University of the Western Cape 1001-1200 1001+


The QS ranking is based on a mix of survey responses and hard data across six indicators, compiled and weighted to formulate a final score.

Over 80,000 academics and 40,000 employers contributed to the rankings through the QS global surveys, while QS said it analysed 99 million citations from 10.3 million papers, and 1,000 institutions were ranked.

The ranking’s biggest indicator, accounting for 40% of the total score, is based on academic reputation.

Academic reputation is measured using a global survey, in which academics were asked to identify the institutions where they believe the best work is currently taking place within their field of expertise.

The indicators and scores are:

  • Academic reputation (40%)
  • Employer reputation (10%)
  • Student-to-faculty ratio (20%)
  • Citations per faculty (20%)
  • International faculty ratio (5%)
  • International student ratio (5%)

Read: Here’s how many university students plan to leave South Africa for work

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