South Africa university rankings

 ·16 Jul 2014

The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has been ranked amongst the top 115 universities in the world.

The list, compiled by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), ranks Harvard University as the best university in the world, using a number of criteria including: Quality of Education; Alumni Employment; Quality of Faculty: Publications; Citations; Broad Impact, and Patents.

The group claims to be the only global university ranking that measures the quality of education and training of students as well as the prestige of the faculty members and the quality of their research without relying on surveys and university data submissions.

The CWUR list originally only compiled a list of the top 100 universities in 2013, but has extended that list to include 1,000 institutions from around the world.

Four other South African based universities feature on the list including: University of Cape Town, (267th), Stellenbosch University (311th), while the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal also makes the top 500, at 459th.

Wits scored highly in Alumni Employment, at 29th, with Quality of Education at 79th. It falls down in Publications (456th), and Broad Impact (472th).

University of Cape Town scores 97th for Quality of Education, but falls down in Patents at 552nd.

Stellenbosch University scores well for Alumni Employment (64th), but Quality of Education is rated at 355th.

Top South African Universities

Rank University Score
114 University of the Witwatersrand 50.40
267 University of Cape Town 46.78
311 Stellenbosch University 46.26
459 University of Kwa-Zulu Natal 45.26
609 University of Pretoria 44.80

Harvard is at the top of the list in seven of the eight criteria, ranking second, behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for Patents.

Eight of the top 10 universities are located in the US, with UK institutions, the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford filling the two remaining slots.

Japanese universities also feature in the top 20 list through the University of Tokyo, at 13th, and Kyoto University (16th).  The US again dominates positions 10th-20th, with only Swiss college, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, at 18th, breaking up that dominance.

Top 10 universities in the world

Rank University Score
1 Harvard University 100
2 Stanford University 99.09
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 98.69
4 University of Cambridge 97.64
5 University of Oxford 97.51
6 Columbia University 97.41
7 University of California, Berkley 92.84
8 University of Chicago 92.03
9 Princeton University 88.56
10 Yale University 88.11

The distribution of the top 1,000 institutions among countries inludes: USA (229), China (84), Japan (74), United Kingdom (64), Germany (55), France (50), Italy (47), Spain (41), South Korea (34), Canada (32), Australia (27), Taiwan (25), Brazil (18), India (15), Netherlands (13), Austria (12), Sweden (11), Belgium (10), Turkey (10).

Breakdown of indicators and weight to final scoring:

  • Quality of Education: the number of a university’s alumni who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals relative to the university’s size [25%];
  • Alumni Employment: the number of a university’s alumni who currently hold CEO positions at the world’s top companies relative to the university’s size [25%];
  • Quality of Faculty: the number of academics who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals [25%] ;
  • Publications: the number of research papers appearing in reputable journals [5%] ;
  • Influence: the number of research papers appearing in highly-influential journals [5%] ;
  • Citations: the number of highly-cited research papers [5%] ;
  • Broad Impact: the university’s h-Index [5%] ;
  • Patents: the number of international patent filings [5%].

More on South Africa’s universities

Tuition fees for SA universities compared

Top universities in South Africa

SA university revises admissions policy for black students

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