South Africa’s best university

The University of Cape Town has once again been ranked as the top South African university in the QS World University Rankings (QSWUR) – making it the best university in the country, topping two of the three local rankings.

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

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 rankings draw on almost 63,700 responses from academics worldwide, the group said.

The indicators and scores are:

  1. Academic reputation (40%)
  2. Employer reputation (10%)
  3. Student-to-faculty ratio (20%)
  4. Citations per faculty (20%)
  5. International faculty ratio (5%)
  6. International student ratio (5%)

The Massachusetts Insitutuion of Technology (MIT) retained its place as the best university in the world.

The University of Cambridge was ranked 2nd overall, followed by the Imperial College of London, Harvard and Oxford.

In South Africa, UCT was the top university, ranked 141st across all universities in the world, with a total score of 62.0.

The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) found itself in distant second to UCT, ranked 318th overall, with a score of 40.3.

Top Universities in South Africa

# University Score
141 University of Cape Town 62.0
318 University of Witwatersrand 40.3
390 Stellenbosch University 35.6
471-480 University of Pretoria 30.3
501-550 University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
601-650 Rhodes University
601-650 University of Johannesburg

SA’s best university

The QSWUR is the third global ranking to be released this year, with the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) lists published previously.

Each ranking uses different indicators with different final score weighting to determine the top institutes, and thus reflect different levels of excellence.

The QSWUR places emphasis on academic reputations; the ARWU has a more even spread across its indicators, with a focus on published research; and the CWUR focuses on alumni and what they went on to achieve.

Looking at the results of all three university rankings as a whole, it’s clear that the University of Cape Town holds the top position in South Africa, overall, with only the CWUR rankings placing the institute second.

Similarly, Wits is the clear number two, with Stellenbosch University ranking third.

# University ARWU SA rank
CWUR SA rank
1 University of Cape Town 1 2 1
2 University of Witwatersrand 2 1 2
3 Stellenbosch University 4 3 3
4 University of Kwa-Zulu Natal 3 4 5
5 University of Pretoria 5 4
6 Rhodes University 6
7 University of Johannesburg 7

The University of South Africa (Unisa) and the University of the North West (Potch) were not ranked in the top 1000 on any rankings.

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South Africa’s best university