College of Economic & Management Sciences

Economics, CEMS score in recent university rankings

The story: The Department of Economics in Unisa’s College of Economic and Management Sciences has received notable rankings from two institutions.

Comment: Its RePEc ranking means that the department is on par with the School of Economic and Business Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, and above a number of other highly recognised departments and schools in South Africa.

The background: Positive ratings like this help assess quality in an increasingly global, competitive and diverse environment.

The Department of Economics has received notable rankings from two institutions. In the ranking of RePEc (Research Papers in Economics) it was recently listed among the top 25% and the top 12.5% of departments or institutions in South Africa and Africa, respectively. In South Africa, it is ranked number five out of 59 institutions.

At the same time, the College of Economic and Management Sciences (CEMS) is ranked number seven in South Africa and number fifteen in Africa, according to the report.

Its ranking means that the department is on par with the School of Economic and Business Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, and above a number of other highly recognised departments and schools, such as the UCT Graduate School of Business, Stellenbosch Business School, and the Department of Economics of the Nelson Mandala Metropolitan University, to mention a few.

In Africa, the department is ranked number 10 out of 346 institutions.

RePEc is an internationally recognised bibliographic database of working papers, journal articles, books, book chapters and software components. Most RePEc documents are freely available from web-based RePEc services, such as IDEAS (which is sponsored by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, Missouri, USA), EconPapers, Socionet Personal Zone, and Inomics. Moreover, the data stored in RePEc can also be used in other databases, such as Econlit and Google Scholar.


Enabling researchers to monitor the visibility of their work worldwide

Apart from a monthly report on the performance of economics institutions, RePEc/IDEAS also gives researchers a monthly report, which shows the number of papers cited, and downloaded, for free. It also shows researchers their ranking - based on a number of criteria. The advantage of their system is that it enables researchers to monitor the visibility of their work worldwide on a monthly basis.

While it is currently the largest economics department in South Africa in terms of staff complement and student numbers, only some ten staff members from Economics are currently registered on the RePEc/IDEAS database. This means that the department’s ranking would have improved significantly if all academic staff members registered on the RePEc/IDEAS database.

Prof Nicholas Odhiambo, one of the department’s most productive researchers, encouraged his colleagues to register with RePEc to increase the visibility of the department’s research and its ranking in South Africa, Africa and internationally.


Listing the world’s top universities

The department also recently received a ranking of 237 in the University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP) by the Informatics Institute, which lists the world’s top universities according to how they excel in various fields of study.

The ranking lists the top 1 000 universities in the world across 61 fields of study (some rankings are limited to top 500 or top 200, depending on how narrow the field is), with 13 South African universities ranked in 37 of them. The universities are ranked according to how they excel in various fields of study.

Economics is the only field of study at Unisa that received a ranking.

The key focus of URAP is on academic performance, which is measured on six academic performance indicators.

Since URAP is an academic performance-based ranking, publications constitute the basis of the ranking methodology. Both quality and quantity of publications and international research collaboration performance are used as indicators.

The overall score of each university is based on its performance over several indicators, including current scientific productivity, research impact, research quality and international acceptance.

The University of Cape Town is by far the best-performing South African university, being ranked in 30 subjects. Three UCT subjects are ranked within the top 100 in the world, while more than half are within the top 200.

The University of Stellenbosch ranks second locally, with 23 subjects ranked among the top in the world, followed by Wits University and the Universities of KwaZulu-Natal and Pretoria all tied for third with 22 subjects.

However, Wits stands out for having one of the highest ranked subjects in the world - Anthropology, which is third out of the 1 000 universities assessed - as well as having the most subjects within the top 100 (four).

Other South African universities to make the URAP ranking include the University of Johannesburg (15 subjects), North-West University (11 subjects), the University of the Free State (6 subjects), the University of the Western Cape (4 subjects), Rhodes (3 subjects) and Nelson Mandela University, the Tshwane University of Technology and Unisa with one subject each.

* By Ilze Crous, Communication and Marketing Specialist, College of Economic and Management Sciences

Publish date: 2020/02/27