South Africa is finding it difficult to compete against its global counterparts, this is according to the 2021–22 edition of the Global 2000 List by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR).
In a press statement, CWUR president Dr Nadim Mahassen said to compete globally, government needs to invest more in public universities.
Mahassen said this will enable to improve both research productivity and research quality.
High quality research, publishing in globally respected journals and being cited widely are factors that are crucial to university rankings.
The CWUR grades universities on four factors: quality of education (25%), alumni employment (25%), quality of faculty (10%), and research performance (40%).
This year, 19 788 institutions were ranked, and only those placed at the top made the global 2 000 list.
In the global top 2000, three universities from South Africa improved from last year, with 10 falling down the rankings.
In the global rankings, the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) dropped 17 places to 292nd, while Stellenbosch University falls six spots to 435th.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) ranked at number 483 and University of Pretoria (UP) is ranked 580th out of 2000 universities.
UCT is number one in the country, leading the pack in quality of education and research performance.
UCT said this university ranking places the institution among the top 1.4% of universities globally.
“These rankings represent an important step forward in the way we assess universities’ performance and, more importantly, their contribution to a better world for all,” said UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.
“At UCT we want to be an excellent institution not simply for the sake of it but to advance society, engage with key challenges and make a difference – and our values recognise this,” she said.
The South African top 10 universities include Wits, ranked second in quality of education but first in alumni employment.
Stellenbosch University sits at number three, while UKZN, UP, University of Johannesburg, North-West University, the University of the Free State, University of Western Cape and Rhodes University are in the top ten respectively.
Regionally, South African universities occupy the top four positions on the continent, ahead of Cairo University. Among Africa’s top 10 institutions, seven are from South Africa, two from Egypt, and one from Uganda.