Africa: UCT's Academic Reputation Best On the Continent

University of Cape Town (file photo).

The University of Cape Town (UCT) remains the top university in Africa, according to the latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings which saw UCT move up two places to 198th position, placing the institution among the top 20% of universities worldwide.

Each year, QS uses six performance indicators to rank 1 000 institutions globally, with this year's rankings including nine from South Africa. These indicators are academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per faculty member, faculty-to-student ratio, international staff ratio and international student ratio.

Leading the QS rankings for the eighth consecutive year is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), followed by Stanford University, with Harvard University in third place.

The academic reputation indicator remains UCT's strongest performer and has improved this year, both in actual score and in position relative to other universities. Academic reputation, which contributes the most (40%) to an institution's overall score, is based on a global survey of experts in higher education regarding universities' teaching and research quality.

UCT's employer reputation ranking, which is based on the views of employers worldwide about which institutions produce the best graduates, also improved - for the third consecutive year.

"The academic reputation indicator remains UCT's strongest performer and has improved this year, both in actual score and in position relative to other universities."

Scores for citations (when an author's work is referred to by other authors) per faculty member also improved, indicating a strengthening in the impact and quality of scientific work produced by UCT. Ratios for international staff, faculty-to-student and international students declined.

Subject rankings

UCT has also continued to perform well in a range of subject areas. In the 2019 QS subject rankings, released during February, UCT's development studies was ranked 9th in the world, with a further eight subject areas featuring in the top 100. These were anatomy and physiology, anthropology, archaeology, architecture/built environment, education, geography, social policy and administration, and sports-related subjects.

In January, UCT also maintained its position as the top university in Africa when it was placed ninth in the 2019 Times Higher Education (THE) Emerging Economies University Rankings, for which THE applies the same 13 performance indicators as for its World University Rankings.

THE judges a university's strengths across teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook, but weightings are recalibrated to better reflect the characteristics and priorities of universities in emerging economies.

UCT's scores in the teaching and research categories increased, as did its reputation survey scores, which are the most prominent within these categories. This offers a good indicator of the institution's positive international reputation among leading academics.

The notably improved research score confirmed UCT as a research-intensive institution producing cutting-edge outputs.

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