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UCT ranks highest in Africa in the World University Rankings

Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings


The University of Cape Town (UCT) is once again the top educational institution in Africa according to the recent QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) World University Rankings for 2013/14.

This year UCT is ranked at 145 globally, up nine places from last year.  The top ranking university globally is Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) followed by Harvard University and University of Cambridge.

QS is the leading global career and education network serving ambitious professionals who are looking to continue with their education in both their personal and professional development.

“The QS World University Rankings are based on four key pillars: research, teaching, employability and internationalisation. The methodology consists of six indicators: academic reputation (40 percent); employer reputation (10 percent); faculty student ratio (20 percent); citations per faculty (20 percent); international students (5 percent); and international faculty (5 percent),” according to the company.

The best South African universities have all improved in their ranking in this year’s annual report. The University of Witwatersrand (Wits), the number 2 South African University,  moved up 50 places to 313. Seven South African universities were included in this years annual QS World University Rankings, and 3 of these were ranked in the top 400 globally.

This year, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings surveyed over 3000 universities globally and included 800 in the final rankings table.

In addition to the pillars and methodology, the company studies over 62000 academic responses and over 27000 employer responses in order to arrive at their results. This makes it the largest survey of academic institutions in the world.

For the very first time, Rhodes University and the University of Johannesburg was included in this years survey and were placed in positions 551-600 and 601-650 categories respectively.

Given the extent and broad nature of the survey, only the top 400 universities are given specific positions. Thereafter, universities are placed in bands  given that the differences in performance of the universities in each band is not significant enough to say that one is better than the other within the specific group.

From the research undertaken, Quacquarelli Symonds revealed that the success of UCT is driven by the strong performance for research citations. This means that the university is producing work and research that is of global importance and impact.

The head of research at Quacquarelli Symonds also stated that by developing world class universities is critical for developing nations and will assist South Africa to realize and achieve its enormous potential for economic growth in the foreseeable future. From this years survey and rankings, it is evident that the country’s top educational institutions are a lot more visible globally, especially UCT who is producing a significant number of ” high-impact research.”

UCT spokeswoman Patricia Lucas stated that they are extremely proud of the university and its improvement over the last year. She also commented that South African’s can now see that they can receive a world class education without having to leave the borders of the country.

To view global ranking – click here


World’s top 100 universities 2012 based on reputation

Once again Harvard has been ranked as the number 1 university according to the latest data  put together by The Times Higher Education and Thomson Reuters which is based on their reputations. Overall, UK universities have slipped several places whilst China has showed remarkable improvements.  The University of Cape Town, for another year, is still the top listed of Universities in Africa.

Higher education can have a life-changing impact in terms of social mobility and earning capacity.

The US for another year running has the most reputable universities in the world based the global reputation ranking.

An interesting fact to observe are the subtle changes from the previous years list. While several UK institutions have fallen in rank, China has improved in their overall performance and is expanding its higher education system faster than the majority of other countries in the world.

The latest results and trends trends has not changed the overall results of the countries producing the most reputable universities.  America still has the largest number of higher quality universities, followed by the UK.

The list and data is compiled by 17,554 leading academics originating from 149 countries who have rated campuses globally according to how good they thought their research and teaching were.

Given the sky rocketing tuition fees, there is an ever increasing competitiveness amongst student applicants to fight for limited spaces at the top universities whilst the reputation of the institution continues to be a major focus for prospective students.



To view complete list click here


Research to give a boost to Rooibos exports


The South African Rooibos Council is taking part in an global project in order to make improvements to the export competitiveness of rooibos, one of the country’s favorite products.

The project is a joint effort between the SA Rooibos Council and the International Trade Centre – a joint agency of the World Trade Organisation and the UN. Financing for the project is made available from the government of The Netherlands.

“We are thrilled that international funders understand the possible ways to take the rooibos product further,” says Soekie Snyman from the Rooibos Council.

South Africa is the world’s sole producer of rooibos, which is actually a unique selling point of the product. Classed as as a herb, rooibos is an element of the fynbos family of plants found in the Cape Floral Kingdom, considered one of only six recognised floral kingdoms on the planet.

Utilized primarily as tea however easily obtainable in numerous types of other products, rooibos is native to the Cederberg region north-west of Cape Town and will only grow in this region. The area’s hot and dry summers, winter rainfall and rough sandy soil provide perfect growing conditions for the sturdy rooibos plant.



As reported by the SA Rooibos Council, 72% of South African households buy rooibos tea and sales are growing at approximately 5% a year. Even though the value of exported tea has grown by an average 26% year-on-year between 2005 and 2009, in excess of 90% of rooibos is exported in large quantities, with little value added.

In 2007 the world’s largest flavour company Givaudan named rooibos as one of the flavours to look out for in its annual FlavourVision forecast.Ever since then, rooibos proceeded to go from being a flavour to watch to a local and international beverage of preference.


Thinking creatively about rooibos

The research project will assist the industry to think a lot more creatively with regards to marketing the sought-after herb.
“To sustain the growth we’ve attained in the last 12 years we need to continue developing the domestic market in addition to examine new possibilities to expand exports,” says Martin Bergh, chairman of the SA Rooibos Council.

The research project will assist the industry to fully grasp rooibos’s export potential, investigate strategies to increase current production, sustain jobs and improve the value of exported tea.

At present about 50 % of the 12 000 tons of rooibos produced annually is exported, mainly to Germany. As per Snyman, Germany buys and sells the most significant quantities of herbs such as rooibos. “It is the international herb trading capital of the world,” she says.
Rooibos is exported to in excess of 30 countries. Germany, The Netherlands, Japan, the UK and US are the largest importers.

Aside from the opportunities for value adding, the rooibos industry is a significant employer in the Cederberg and surrounding areas. The industry is labour-intensive and provides about 4 500 jobs.


The South African government has acknowledged this as one of the focus areas in its Industrial Policy Action Plan – by promoting the exports of added-value rooibos products, jobs in the sector will be better protected.

Taking these aspects into consideration, the objective of the initial six-month project is to perform an in-depth analysis of the structure and pricing of the German rooibos market. The collected information will assist the industry to determine new opportunities and market segments.

In a statement Lilia Naas, programme manager at the International Trade Centre, outlined that the research forms part of the inception phase of the project. If the results prove encouraging, a second phase of the project would put into practice activities to boost the positioning of rooibos in international markets.


Value adding potential

Snyman says that rooibos is actually a versatile product that can be used extensively in the manufacture of products such as pet skincare ranges, alcoholic liqueurs, rooibos-smoked butter, salad dressings, yoghurt, jams, jellies and biscuits.

Rooibos is additionally a favourite ingredient in experimental cuisine. At the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Cape Town, which not too long ago made it onto the Condé Nast Traveler Magazine listing of the 80 best new hotels globally, you can savor rooibos ice-cream as part of their fynbos-inspired menu.


Whilst value adding is extremely important, Snyman says that the primary focus of the industry continues to be tea. “There is a growing market trend for speciality teas. In South Africa, the speciality tea market is still small, but it’s growing fast,” she says.


South Africa’s unofficial national drink

Apart from its sweet flavour, one more reason for the ever increasing popularity of rooibos is the verified natural health benefits.

The SA Rooibos Council has invested in excess of R2-million (US$252 000) in independent scientific research to ascertain the benefits associated with rooibos. It is financing six projects at a number of local universities and science councils, concentrating on how rooibos can counter cancer and stress in addition to the link between rooibos and exercise. A project on rooibos and obesity is also underway.


A newly released collaborative study by scientists at four international research facilities discovered the first clinical evidence that drinking rooibos tea significantly improves the antioxidant capacity in human blood, boosting the body’s natural defences.

Source: mediaclubsouthafrica.com


South African students win Intel science awards

South African students Danielle Boer and Alessio Giuricich have been awarded top prizes at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held in California on 13 May 2011.

The two accepted awards for their ingenious, impartial research on the subject of social challenges through science.

The ISEF is the world’s most well known global high school science competition, which offers a platform for grade nine to 12 students from all over the world to display their independent research. Awards are available in the form of bursaries, scholarships and prize money.

Boer, from St Dominic’s Academy in Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, was given a unique nod in the sociology subcategory for her research concerning how to improve the overall productivity of factory workers through the use of music. She obtained a bursary worth R42 000 (US$6 063) to finance her tertiary education.

Giuricich from Bishops Diocesan College in Cape Town received R7 000 ($1 010) in prize money for winning the special award within the behavioural sciences subcategory for a project that analyzed sugar dependence among adolescents. He additionally came second in the Intel Grand Awards, taking home an additional R10 500 ($1 516).



Supporting innovation


The competition is jointly funded by Intel and the Intel Foundation, along with further awards and support from corporate, academic, and government organisations.

“We champion the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for the reason that we recognize that math and science happen to be imperative for innovation,” said Shelly Esque, vice-president of Intel’s Corporate Affairs Group. “This global competition features youth attempting to remedy the world’s most pressing challenges by way of science.”

The two South African students defeated over 7-million of their peers who competed in local science fairs with the aspiration of reaching the ISEF. Only 1 500 youngsters coming from all over the world ended up being invited to the ISEF to share their ideas as well as present their cutting-edge research, in so doing standing a possibility to win awards and scholarships.

“This global competition features youth looking to solve the world’s most demanding challenges through science, and we are extremely proud of the South African learners who excelled in the international stage of the competition,” said Parthy Chetty, head of Intel SA.

Chetty credited persistence and gruelling hours of research on their projects as key to the students’ achievements.


ISEF selected their finalists from 443 affiliate fairs in 65 countries, regions, and territories, including, for the first time, France, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and China. The sheer numbers of finalists was whittled down by way of a challenging assessment process.

The research was assessed by hundreds of judges coming from a range of scientific disciplines, each individual with a PhD or the equivalent of six years of related professional experience in one of the scientific disciplines.

Along with their prizes, the Intel Foundation in addition awarded a R6 921 ($1 000) grant to each winner’s school and the Intel ISEF-affiliated fair they represent.

ISEF is owned and administered by the Society for Science and the Public, a non-profit organisation devoted to public engagement in scientific research and education.

“We congratulate the top winners for having the drive and curiosity to undertake these significant scientific questions,” said Elizabeth Marincola, president of Society for Science and the Public.

“Their work, and the work of all of the finalists at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, illustrates what students are able to achieve when they are inspired to pursue inquiry-based research.”

Source: mediaclubsouthafrica.com, burtwalker.com,


PetroSA to assist graduate research students

In an attempt to preserve skilled black graduates as academics, the University of Johannesburg has recently been given a cash boost from PetroSA in order to aid historically-disadvantaged learners within the areas of research, innovation and advancement.

The R3 million gift to the university stands out as the extension of the South Africa’s national oil company’s scholarship programme to finance black and female post-graduate applicants in the levels of Masters and PhD studies.

The programme commenced in 2009 and to date, a sum of R9 million has already been provided by the oil company, the donation is valued at R3 million a year, over three years.

Referred to as the Next Generation Scholars programme, it is designed to alter the face of postgraduate studies throughout the country by concentrating on the value of research results in universities.

PetroSA spokesperson Thabo Mabaso stated that the programme started out after the realisation that the majority of research at South African universities is presently being performed by mature, predominately male, white academics.

“A number of universities happen to be dependent upon post-retirement agreements with senior researchers to help maintain research outputs, the absence of a whole new generation of students is without a doubt having an influence on the longer term of academic research,” Mabaso explained, adding the fact that the company’s monetary gift facilitates with the discovering of new skilled research workers.

Students are generally chosen on grounds of their academic record, their specific skills and expertise for and disposition when it comes to an academic career, and whether or not their particular disciplines complement the UJ’s research and academic niches.

PetroSA’s Acting President and CEO Nkosemntu Nika stated the company is undoubtedly a proud innovator of cutting-edge technology and leaders in its field and as a consequence inspire the development and nurturing of academic skills.

“That is the reason why we have been active in the Next Generation Scholars programme, this will likely make certain that we establish a group of skilled young professionals, primarily from historically-disadvantaged communities not to mention this can only be good for the country,” said Nika.

Source: BuaNews