Six South African universities are ranked among the top 500 universities in the world, as per the seventh annual Best Global Universities rankings published by US News & World Report.

The rankings are made up of the top 1500 academic institutions spread across 86 countries – five more than the 81 countries featured last year. It is the largest and most comprehensive assessment of research universities worldwide, according to Business Tech.

The rankings provide insight into how universities compare with other institutions globally.

“All universities can benchmark themselves against schools in their own country and region, become more visible on the world stage, and find top schools in other countries to consider collaborating with,” said Robert Morse and Juan Vega-Rodriguez, the data analysts behind the study.

South African Rankings

South Africa made strides in the 2020/21 global rankings, as 13 institutions made it into the ranking.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) remains the best university in South Africa and on the continent – it climbed to its highest position in three years, 103rd.

The University of Witswatersrand placed 2nd in SA and 192nd overall, which is an improvement on the previous year when it was ranked 200th.

Stellenbosch University, UKZN, North-West University, Unisa, University of the Free State and Tshwane University of Technology were the other SA universities to improve their overall rankings. Unisa was the only university to improve their local ranking by leapfrogging Rhodes University.

Rhodes, together with the University of Johannesburg, University of Pretoria, University of the Western Cape and Nelson Mandela University are the South African universities that tumbled down the global rankings.

The six SA universities ranked in the global top 500 are:

—University of Cape Town

—University of Witwatersrand

—Stellenbosch University

—University of Kwa-Zulu Natal

—University of Johannesburg

—University of Pretoria

These are the top 13 universities in South Africa:

SA  ranking Global ranking University
1 103 University of Cape Town
2 192 University of Witwatersrand
3 321 Stellenbosch University
4 332 University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
5 378 University of Johannesburg
6 444 University of Pretoria
7 564 North-West University
8 729 University of the Western Cape
9 923 University of South Africa
10 925 Rhodes University
11 949 University of the Free State
12 1044 Tshwane University of Technology
13 1254 Nelson Mandela University

Global Rankings

The top 10 universities in the overall rankings are similar to the 2019/20 edition. Harvard University (Massachusetts) is top of the pile, once again, and the top three is completed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University (California).

The only new addition to the global top 10 is Johns Hopkins University (Maryland), which occupies tenth place.

Princeton University (New Jersey) fell out of the top 10 this year and shares eleventh place with Yale University (Connecticut).

The University of Oxford and University of Cambridge, both from the United Kingdom, ranked fifth and ninth, respectively, are the only institutions in the top 10 that are located outside the United States.

Top 10 global universities:

# Country University
1 United States Harvard University
2 United States Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3 United States Stanford University
4 United States University of California—Berkeley
5 United Kingdom University of Oxford
6 United States Columbia University
7 United States California Institute of Technology
8 United States University of Washington
9 United Kingdom University of Cambridge
10 United States Johns Hopkins University

How the rankings are calculated

The rankings emphasises the research output of universities and the reputations associated with that research – both locally and globally.

Publications, citations and international collaboration are some of the bibliometric indicators that are taken into account.

Each subject is ranked according to its own methodology, which is based on research performance and reputation in that specific area.

The 13 indicators the group looks at (and their weightings) are:

—Global research reputation – 12.5%

—Regional research reputation – 12.5%

—Number of publications that are among the 10% most cited – 12.5%

—Percentage of total publications that are among the 10% most cited – 10%

—Publications – 10%

—Normalised citation impact – 10%

—Total citations – 7.5%

—International collaboration – 5%

—Percentage of total publications with international collaboration – 5%

—Number of highly cited papers that are among the top 1% most cited in their respective field – 5%

—Percentage of total publications that are among the top 1% most highly cited papers – 5%

—Books – 2.5%

—Conferences – 2.5%

Picture: Wikimedia Commons

Article written by