South Africa’s two best universities slip in new ranking

In Africa, South Africa, World

South Africa’s two best universities slip in new ranking

Times Higher Education (THE) has released its latest rankings for universities in emerging economies.

This year’s Emerging Economies University Rankings includes 378 universities, up from 300 last year. It uses the same 13 performance indicators as the THE World University Rankings, but they have been recalibrated to reflect the development priorities of universities in emerging economies.

The performance indicators are grouped into five areas: Teaching (the learning environment); Research (volume, income and reputation); Citations (research influence); International outlook (staff, students and research); and Industry Income (knowledge transfer).

According to the report, the gap between China’s elite universities and the rest of its higher education sector is widening with the country’s Peking University and Tsinghua University claiming the top two places for the fifth year in a row.

The country takes a further five places in the top 10 (one more than last year) and one in six – or 63 – positions in the table overall, up from 52 last year.

In contrast, South Africa now boasts just one university in the top 10 – the University of Cape Town (9th) – which slipped down five places compared to 2017’s ranking of 4th.

Notably the University of the Witwatersrand has slipped out of the top 10 – down from 8th in 2017 to 12th in 2018.

Other universities, including the University of Stellenbosch (up six places to 38th in 2018), the University of the Kwa-Zulu Natal (up seventeen places to 41st in 2018), and the
University of Pretoria (up eight places to 66th), saw steady increases.

However, the biggest riser was the University of Johannesburg which climbed 49 places to 92nd.

In explaining the drop, researcher Ellie Bothwell said that while Chinese universities saw major improvements, South African universities had only noticeably improved in a few areas but dropped in others.

“South Africa, whose overall change is comparable with India’s, is falling back on reputation, overall resources and productivity – but improving on research quality and research income,” she said.

South African rankings

South African Ranking Name Overall 2017 ranking Overall 2018 ranking
1 University of Cape Town 4 9
2 University of Witwatersrand 8 12
3 Stellenbosch University 42 38
4 University of KwaZulu-Natal 58 41
5 University of Pretoria 74 66
6 University of Johannesburg 141 92
7 University of the Western Cape 102 117
8 University of South Africa 251-300 (exact ranking not given) 251-300 (exact ranking not given)

Overall top 10 rankings for 2018

Rank Name Country Number of students
1 Peking University China 42 136
2 Tsinghua University China 42 089
3 Lomonosov Moscow State University Russia  29 236
4 Fudan Univerity China  32 859
5 University of Science and Technology of  China China  16 032
6 Zhejiang University China  50 051
7 Shanghai Jiao Tong University China  37 288
8 Nanjing University China  33 456
9 University of Cape Town  South Africa  20 775
10  National Taiwan University  Taiwan  31 758

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