Top universities in South Africa

Five South African universities feature in the list of top 100 universities in the Brics and emerging markets.

This is according to the annual Times Higher Education Brics and Emerging Markets Rankings for 2014, which ranks universities in emerging markets according to 13 performance indicators, including teaching, research volumes and research influence.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) was ranked the top university in South Africa, placing 3rd in the overall rankings with a score of 50.5, behind two Chinese universities: Tsinghua University (2nd – 63.5) and Peking University (1st – 65.0).

UCT is the only South African university to be ranked in the top 200 global universities, ranking 126th amongst the global leaders in tertiary education.

According to Times Higher Education, only five institutions from the emerging economies appear in the World University Rankings 2013-14 top 200 – with 38 in the top 400.

SA’s University of the Witswatersrand (Wits) ranked 15th on the list, with a score of 39.8, making it the second best university in the country, according to Times Higher Education.

Stellenbosch University was ranked 21st, overall, with a score of 36.2, with the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) and the University of Pretoria (TUKS) rounding off South Africa’s showing in the rankings in 45th and 78th position, respectively.

Top South African universities

# University Province Score
3 University of Cape Town Western Cape 50.5
15 University of the Witwatersrand Gauteng 39.8
21 Stellenbosch University Western Cape 36.2
45 University of Kwa-Zulu Natal Kwa-Zulu Natal 28.0
78 University of Pretoria Gauteng 21.7
University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town

Top 10 universities in emerging markets

# University Country Score
1 Peking University China 65.0
2 Tsinghua University China 63.5
3 University of Cape Town South Africa 50.5
4 National Taiwan University Taiwan 49.2
5 Boğaziçi University Turkey 44.3
6 University of Science and Technology of China China 44.0
7 Istanbul Technical University Turkey 42.7
8 Fudan University China 42.3
9 Middle East Technical University Turkey 41.5
10 Lomonosov Moscow State University Russian Federation 41.4

“The rankings have allowed universities to create comprehensive institutional profiles to help identify their strengths and weaknesses,” said M. W. Makgoba, vice-chancellor and principal at the UKZN.

“These profiles have been very useful in measuring, validating and quantifying performance and strategy across a number of indicators. At KwaZulu-Natal, our profiles have allowed the academic community to see the total picture of the institution’s performance and are reported annually to the university senate and council.”


The Times Higher Education Brics and Emerging Markets rankings are compiled by assessing 13 performance indicators to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons.

The methodology for the report is identical to that used in the global Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which offers a year-on-year comparison based on true performance rather than methodological change.

According to Times Higher Education, 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%).

The full emerging market university rankings can be found here.

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Top universities in South Africa