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Unisa climbs ten positions in Webometrics world ranking

Focusing on three main benchmarks – visibility, transparency or openness, and excellence – the Ranking Web of Universities (or Webometrics Ranking), in its first edition for 2023, places Unisa at 795th among more than 31 000 universities worldwide, up from 805th in 2022.

The ranking is an initiative of the Cybermetrics Lab, which is part of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), the largest public research body in Spain. CSIC is attached to the Spanish Ministry of Education, and its main objective is to promote scientific research to improve the welfare of citizens.

Since 2004, the Ranking Web has been published twice a year, covering more than 31 000 higher education institutions worldwide.

The research group says that the ranking is exclusively based on “link analysis for quality evaluation, as it is a far more powerful tool than citation analysis or global surveys. In the first case, bibliometrics only counts formal recognition between peers, while links not only includes bibliographic citations but also third parties’ involvement with university activities.”

The group focused on three main benchmarks for the first edition of its 2023 ranking:

  • Visibility: The number of external networks (subnets) linking to the institution’s web pages (weighted at 50%)
  • Transparency or openness: The number of citations from the top 310 authors, excluding the top 30 outliers based on Google Scholar profiles (10%)
  • Excellence: The number of papers amongst the top 10% most cited in each one of the 27 disciplines of the full database over the last five years (40%)

Among South African universities, Unisa maintained its position in the top 1000 internationally, and seventh overall among the 123 institutions of higher learning (including also colleges and academies, both private and public).

“Rankings have become a controversial subject in recent times due to their misuse,” says Professor Les Labuschagne, Executive Director: Research, Innovation and Commercialisation at Unisa. “It is also necessary to note that the variables used have changed over time, making a direct comparison with previous years impractical. The results mirror similar rankings, and, together with these, provide confirmation of the stature of Unisa in the global higher education domain.  Scores like those in this ranking should always be seen within a particular context. The Unisa context is not only unique in South Africa but also in the world. The main value is that it shows improvement over time.”

The University of Cape Town (UCT) was the top-ranked university in the country, following the same trend seen in other university rankings.

UCT is followed by the University of the Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch University and the University of Pretoria. These were the only universities ranked within the top 500 globally.

Within the top 1000, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Johannesburg, Unisa and the University of the Western Cape follow.

Click here to view the complete South African rankings


* Compiled by Philip van der Merwe, Editor, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2023/03/08

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