Each year, universities across the world eagerly await the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). At the top of the 2020 list is Harvard University, followed by Stanford University. The University of Cambridge rounds out the top three.

The ARWU assesses more than 1800 universities annually. The criteria includes:

– Alumni of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals – Alumni (10%)  

– Quality of Faculty 

– Staff of an institution winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals (20%)

– Highly Cited Researchers (20%)

– Papers published in Nature and Science (20%)

– Papers indexed in Science Citation Index-Expanded and Social Science Citation Index (20%) 

– Per capita academic performance of an institution (10%)

The world’s top 10 universities (Source: ShanghaiRanking Consultancy’s Academic Ranking of World Universities)

Nine South African universities made the 2020 list, and Wits has narrowly outranked the University of Cape Town (UCT). The two universities grappled for the top local spot and had similar scores but ultimately, Wits had more cited works than UCT.

Source: ShanghaiRanking Consultancy’s Academic Ranking of World Universities

Stellenbosch University climbed to the third spot in local rankings, beating out the University of Pretoria (UP).

A total of eight South African Universities were included in the ranking in 2019, and of those, four have improved their scores for the 2020 ranking.

The scores of UCT, UP, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Unisa dropped compared to 2019.

Picture: University of the Witwatersrand

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.