The new year always comes with a flurry of activities as high school graduates and other scholars look for new schools or wish to join institutions of higher education to advance their studies. In case you are one of these graduates or you are concerned for a graduate, then it is likely that you have wondered about the top universities in South Africa in 2020. Remember, you want to pick an institution that has a globally recognized degree or other qualifications.
The task of compiling the best universities in the world is done by a number of organizations such as the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), which releases its ranking based on the quality of education, research quality, training quality, and the prestige of the members of faculties. Other organizations and rankings include the Academic Ranking of World Universities and the A3 Top 500 Global Universities among others.
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University rankings in South Africa 2019 - 2020 - Top universities in South Africa
What is the best university in South Africa? Below are the top 10 in South Africa 2019-2020, with the first 7 having made it to top 1000 worldwide as per the 2018-2019 CWUR worldwide ranking.
1. University of Cape Town
Most of the rankings out there will agree that the University of Cape Town is the top university in South Africa. In fact, it has occupied the top spot for several years now in a row. Where is UCT ranked in the world? The CWUR ranks this higher education institution in the 223rd position globally. The ranking for BRICS places it at the 22nd spot. In case you are wondering, BRICS is an acronym that means Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. It has around 29,000 students from all over the world who are drawn to the top quality education.
2. University of the Witwatersrand
Based in Johannesburg, this top higher learning institution commonly referred to as Wits University ranks 230 worldwide according to CWUR, and 40 in BRICS. Founded in 1896 as a mining school, it has about 33,700 scholars from within and outside South Africa. If you want history, then go for this one because its pedigree includes none other than Nelson Mandela. To this day, it has held on to those roots by being among the top 50 institutions in the world in teaching mineral & mining engineering.
3. University of KwaZulu-Natal
The University of KwaZulu-Natal is one of the top ones in South Africa 2019 despite its young age. It was actually formed in 2004 by the merger of two institutions: the University of Natal and the University of Durban-Westville. Using rankings from the CWUR, then it is in the 402nd position worldwide and third in the nation. This institution, which is located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, hosts the Center for AIDS Research in South Africa.
4. University of Pretoria
The University of Pretoria has at least 53,000 students, which makes it one of the biggest institutions in South Africa. It turned 110 in February 2018, and it is the only institution in South Africa to have a faculty of veterinary science. Aside from that, you can choose from at least 1,800 study programs in both English and Afrikaans. Some of its top subjects include Theology, Law, Agriculture, and Divinity & Religious Studies. CWUR places it at 438 globally.
5. Stellenbosch University
Ranked 448th in the world by the CWUR and fifth in South Africa, Stellenbosch University was established in 1918. Located in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape Province, it has around 30,850 students from within and outside the country. Just like Wits University, its international faculty is highly ranked in the nation. Some of its top disciplines include Divinity & Religious Studies, Development Studies, Agriculture, and Theology.
6. University of Johannesburg
Interestingly, the University of Jo'burg ranks as one of South Africa’s top institutions despite its recent establishment in 2005. The high ranking can be explained by the fact that it was formed through a merger of three universities: the Rank Afrikaans University, a section of Vista University, and Technikon Witwatersrand. This young higher education institution is among the top 100 in the world for Development Studies, and it ranks 790 globally as per CWUR rankings.
7. North-West University
Just like the University of Johannesburg above, North-West was also formed by a merger. The merger happened in 2004 and involved two universities: the University of North-West and Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education. Presently, it has 3 campuses and at least 64,000 students, which makes it one of the largest higher learning institutions in South Africa. The three campuses are located at Vanderbijlpark, Mahikeng, and Potchefstroom. It has one of the highest scores for innovation, and it ranks 964 worldwide as per CWUR ranking.
8. Rhodes University
Rhodes University is situated in Grahamstown, which is in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. Established in 1904, this learning institution has a small number of students of around 8,000 with 18% of this number coming from 40 other countries. Of the total population, postgraduates account for 26% while undergraduates make up 20%. Rhodes University ranks highly in two subjects in the world: English Language and Literature and Communication and Media Studies.
9. University of the Western Cape
Founded in 1959, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) is located in the Bellville suburb in Cape Town. UWC holds a soft spot among the people of South Africa because of the vital role it played in the fight against racism. It helped out academically in building a fair and equal nation that South Africa is today. In terms of its student base, it has one of the most diverse groups in South Africa due to its good relationships with other local and international institutions.
10. University of the Free State
Abbreviated as UFS, this public higher learning institution has been operating since its establishment back in 1904 when it was established as Grey College. Today, it has about 39,440 students distributed across its three campuses and seven faculties. Located in Bloemfontein in Free State Province, it boasts of a number of respectable alumni such as Wayde van Niekerk, P.W. Botha, Susan Vosloo, and other personalities.
Other top universities in South Africa
There are several other top institutions in South Africa for you to choose from. Obviously, not everyone is going to fit into the above institutions. The following are some of the other top institutions.
- The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
- The University of Fort Hare
- The Tshwane University of Technology
- The Cape Peninsula University of Technology
- The Vaal University of Technology
- The Central University of Technology
- Universiteit van die Vrystaat
- The Central University of Technology
- Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University
- The Mangosuthu University of Technology
- The University of Zululand
- Walter Sisulu University
- The Durban University of Technology
- The University of Limpopo
- The University of Mpumalanga
The above institutions qualify to be among the top universities in Africa based on their rankings in the world. With this comprehensive list of top universities in South Africa 2018-2019, you surely have an option for undertaking your higher education studies. Find out if there are ongoing admissions to join the institutions and be a part of the candidates from globally recognized institutions that will improve your place in the job market. Happy learning!