Leading change

Unisa in top 1000 global list

Unisa is one of only eight South African universities to make the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018. It features in the segment #801-1000. The country’s universities lead the African continent, with the universities of Cape Town, the Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch, KwaZulu-Natal, Pretoria, Johannesburg, and the Western Cape also making a showing. The top 1 000 represent no more than 5 per cent of the 20 000 or so higher education institutions in the world, and so Unisa finds itself in good company in the league.

2017 marks the first year that more than 1 000 universities were assessed and ranked by the group.

“The 2018 World University Rankings judge universities across all of their core missions: teaching: research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. This year’s table was the most competitive yet, with more than 1 500 universities submitting data and 1 000 universities being included in the table. So it is a great achievement that Unisa has made this ranking. Congratulations!” the World University Ranking editor Phil Baty said.

Internationally, the University of Oxford has held on to the number one spot for the second year in a row, while the University of Cambridge has jumped from fourth to second place. Cambridge’s rise comes at the expense of the California Institute of Technology, which was number one between 2012 and 2016, number two last year, and now shares third position with Stanford.

Overall, European institutions occupy half of the top 200 places, with the Netherlands and Germany joining the UK as the most-represented countries. Italy, Spain and the Netherlands each have new number ones.

Another notable trend is the continued rise of China. The Asian giant is now home to two universities in the top 30: Peking and Tsinghua. The Beijing duo now outrank several prestigious institutions in Europe and the US. Meanwhile, almost all Chinese universities have improved, signalling that the country’s commitments to investment has bolstered results year-on-year.

Teaching tends to be the pillar on which universities ranked between 201 and 1 000 perform most impressively, thanks to their history as primarily teaching-focused universities and their relatively recent adoption of strategies aimed at building research capacity. “In general, institutions in developing countries are held back when it comes to their reputation for teaching and their research and citation impact. Prestige takes many years to acquire and tends to be bestowed some time after the achievements it marks have been accomplished. This lag disadvantages newer and less advanced institutions, while research influence often correlates with high levels of research income and productivity, two metrics dominated by the world’s richest nations, ” said Ellie Bothwell of Times Higher Education.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings are the only global performance tables that judge research-intensive universities across all their core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and international outlook.

Best universities in Africa 2016: top 15

Rank Institution Country
1 University of Cape Town South Africa
2 University of the Witwatersrand South Africa
3 Stellenbosch University South Africa
4 Makerere University Uganda
5 University of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa
6 University of Pretoria South Africa
7 University of Ghana Ghana
8 University of Nairobi Kenya
9 Suez Canal University Egypt
10 Alexandria University Egypt
11 Cairo University Egypt
12 University of Marrakech Cadi Ayyad Morocco
13 University of South Africa South Africa
14 University of Ibadan Nigeria
15 Mohammed V University of Rabat Morocco

*Compiled by Sharon Farrell

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