University rankings and University applications

One of the significant considerations for some students when applying to universities is the global ranking of the institution. There are varying opinions on the various methodologies used by ranking organisations, and over the years, university rankings have become quite a contested topic in the academic circles. This article will look at the two major global ranking systems that South African universities use to benchmark their performance against other institutions in the world. 


The Times Higher Education World University Ranking

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings includes almost 1600 universities from 99 nations and territories, making it the most comprehensive and diversified university rankings to date. Teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and worldwide view are all considered in the ranking. The 2022 ranking analysed over 108 million citations from around 14.4 million scholarly publications and nearly 22,000 global researchers. We received approximately 430,000 data items from over 2100 entities. The following is the 2022 ranking of South African universities:

  1. University of Cape Town (183)

  2. Stellenbosch University (251 – 300)

  3. University of Witwatersrand (251 – 300)

  4. University of KwaZulu-Natal (251 – 300)

  5. Durban University of Technology (401 –  500)

  6. North-West University (501 – 600)

  7. University of Johanessburg (251 – 300)

  8. University of Pretoria (601 – 800)

  9. University of the Western Cape (601 – 800)

  10. University of South Africa (801 – 1000)

(Global ranking)


QS Education World University Ranking

The most recent QS Education University Ranking includes 1,300 universities from all over the world. The most recent publication of universities in the QS is the largest ever. Six key metrics were used to evaluate each institution. These are the following, Academic reputation, Employer Reputation, Faculty/Student Ratio, Citations per faculty, International Faculty Ratio, and International Student Ratio. The following is the LASTES ranking of South African universities on the QS Education World University Ranking:

  1. University of Cape Town (226)

  2. University of Witwatersrand (434)

  3. Stellenbosch University (482)

  4. University of Pretoria (601 – 650)

  5. Rhodes University (801 – 1000)

  6. University of KwaZulu-Natal (801 – 1000)

  7. North-West University (1000 – 1200)

  8. University of the Western Cape (1000 – 1200)

(Global ranking)


As a learner who is considering various universities, it might also be worth it to research the specific faculty ranking of your prospective institution. Considering the different methodologies used for the overall university ranking, it is likely that some institutions may be stronger in specific faculties than others; therefore, doing a bit more research and article search on the work done by your prospective faculty might be useful.