The 10 best universities in Africa

A new university ranking compiled by Thompson Reuters has listed the top 10 tertiary institutions on the African continent, lead by South Africa’s University of Cape Town.

The ranking looks specifically at university reputation, which reflects a university’s ability to recruit high-quality staff and students, establish valuable international partnerships, and connect with greater funding prospects.

The group determined its ranking by analysing all its reputation survey results to date (2010-2014), which contain more than 1.5 million individual data points and have recorded 65,000 responses, covering 6,500 of the world’s leading universities across 105 disciplines.

Africa’s Leading Universities was determined over the five-year period by survey respondents specifically living in Africa.

The ranking is dominated by South African universities, with the University of Cape Town as the clear regional leader in academic reputation.

UCT has consistently topped global university rankings for South Africa, with the exception of one, the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), which was claimed by the University of the Witwatersrand.

Based on its global ranking, the regional reputation of Egypt’s Cairo University is significantly lower than expected, Thompson Reuters said.

“This may be a reflection of its geographical location to the Middle East,” the group said.

The University of Cape Town is also the only university on the continent to crack the top 200, according to the data, ranking 160th overall.

Cairo University, Wits and TUKS all made it into the top 500.

Top Universities in Africa

Local # Global # University Country
1 160 University of Cape Town South Africa
2 366 University of Witwatersrand South Africa
3 438 Stellenbosch University South Africa
4 366 University of Pretoria South Africa
5 638 University of KwaZulu Natal South Africa
6 608 University of Johannesburg South Africa
7 285 Cairo University Egypt
8 655 Ain Shams University Egypt
9 731 Makerere University Uganda
10 664 University of Ghana Ghana

According to Thompson Reuters, the disparity between the regional and global ranking can be chalked up to differences in perception.

“A survey respondent’s view on the institutions within his/her geographical area often varies from the general global perspective, primarily because the work of some regional academic leaders may not be as well-known in other parts of the world,” the group noted.

“The second cause of potential gaps between regional and global perceptions appears in cases where the geographical distribution of co-authorship may not correlate to reputation.”

Global ranking

Leading all global universities in terms of reputational power, Harvard tops the list.

Like UCT for South Africa, Harvard has topped all global university rankings as the best university in the world, using various weighted metrics.

Beyond having the best reputation, Harvard is also seen as the best institution to study medicine and health related subjects, subjects related to life sciences as well as social sciences.

It was also rated the best institution for business studies, reflecting a Financial Times study which ranked it as the top MBA school in the world.

The University of Cape Town’s GSB MBA was ranked 52nd, and the best value for money in the world.

These are the top 10 universities according to the Thomson Reuters study:

# University Country
1 Harvard University USA
2 MIT USA
3 University of Cambridge UK
4 University of Oxford UK
5 Stanford University USA
6 University of California, Berkeley USA
7 Princeton University USA
8 Yale University USA
9 University of California, Los Angeles USA
10 Caltech USA

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The 10 best universities in Africa