South Africa universities amongst the best globally

South Africa has once again established the fact that the standard of its tertiary education is comparable along with the finest in the world. Two local universities, the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University, have accomplished top honours by being listed in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings for 2011/12.

First published in 2004, the QS ranking is a recognized global career and education network. Potential students and staff coming from all around the world take advantage of the information and facts to make a decision where they should study and advance their academic careers.

Stellenbosch University (SU) was awarded double honours as it was included in the QS listing’s top 500 universities, and in addition came in third highest on the African continent.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) was slipped into 156th position, up from 161 the year before. The QS system at the same time continues to name UCT as the only university in Africa inside the top 200.

The QS system utilizes six indicators to ascertain a global ranking: academic reputation (40%); employer reputation (10%); citations per faculty (20%); faculty student ratio (20%); proportion of international students (5%); and proportion of international faculty (5%). The top universities world-wide are then selected out of 2 000 institutions.


Recognizing outstanding teaching and research

Prof Russel Botman, SU’s rector and vice-chancellor, affirms that inclusion in the QS listing can be described as significant success for the university as it points too the global community has taken notice of the quality of its teaching and research.

Stellenbosch University has been doing ground-breaking work as part of its HOPE project in the elements of nano-fibre water filter technology, food security, HIV/Aids, paediatric tuberculosis as well as other research initiatives.

The HOPE project supports the UN’s Millennium Development Goals by concentrating on world-class research geared towards enhancing the day-to-day lives of South Africans and individuals in other places across the continent.

“Although we do not go in pursuit of rankings, we are proud to be acknowledged by our peers in this way. It is really an important feather in our cap,” Botman says, adding the fact that the rankings at the same time expose local academics and students to additional opportunities for research collaboration and exchange.



He admits that SU is doing a considerable amount of work to further improve its research output, and has received global recognition as the university that offers by far the most research output in the country per academic staff member.

Having said that, he was astonished at the ranking received for international visibility. “The university has been working extremely hard to boost its global presence and visibility over the past four years, but we did not know that our work would be noticed so quickly,” he says.

Outcomes of research conducted by Stellenbosch University in 2007 exposed that internationally the university wasn’t widely recognized for the quality of its academic programmes. Having said that, people were acquainted with the institution’s negative apartheid history.

“The ranking demonstrates that our strategy to enhance awareness of the university and bring about transformation is without a doubt correct,” says Botman.

Global acknowledgement of this kind is advantageous for individual tertiary institutions and the country. UCT’s executive director of communications and marketing, Gerda Kruger, mentioned in a statement that a good overall performance on the QS list sends the message that South Africans can obtain a world-class education without the need of leaving the country.

Click here to view Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings



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