Here are South Africa’s best – and worst – ranked universities for 2022

The official ranking of South Africa’s best universities has been made public, and it’s a fascinating read. The University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP) index developed a table of Mzansi’s 21 tertiary education institutions, including both the best and worst ranked universities.

Top of the class? Higher learning bodies fight for #1 spot

Before we dig into the list, it’s worth noting exactly how the URAP system works. The academic experts judge universities based on several key criteria, including the impact of their research and the quality of published articles:

“The URAP ranking system’s focus is on academic quality. URAP has gathered data about 3,000 Higher Education Institutes (HEI) in an effort to rank these organizations by their academic performance. The overall score of each HEI is based upon its performance over several indicators.”
“Since URAP is an academic performance-based ranking, publications constitute the basis of the ranking methodology. Both quality and quantity of publications and international research collaboration performance are used as indicators – as are research impacts, scientific productivity, and international acceptance.”
URAP methodology

What are the best and worst rated universities in South Africa?

According to this scale, the University of Cape Town is the top institution in SA. Wits then trails by a substantial margin, with UKZN completing the top three. Stellenbosch University and the University of Pretoria are ranked fourth and fifth respectively. However, that doesn’t tell the full story.
UCT and UP have both actually dropped a few places on the global ranking scale. Meanwhile, Vaal University of Technology has the lowest rating of the lot, and props up the domestic table in 21st place.
You can view the full list here:

  1. University of Cape Town / UCT – ranked 240th globally.
  2. Witwatersrand University – ranked 323rd globally.
  3. University of KwaZulu-Natal / UKZN – ranked 358th globally.
  4. Stellenbosch University – ranked 377th globally.
  5. University of Pretoria – ranked 474th globally.
  6. University of Johannesburg – ranked 592nd globally.
  7. North West University – ranked 611th globally.
  8. University of the Western Cape – ranked 886th globally.
  9. Free State University – ranked 927th globally.
  10. University of South Africa / UNISA – ranked 948th globally.
  11. Rhodes University – ranked 1 130th globally.
  12. Durban University of Technology – ranked 1 256th globally.
  13. Tshwane University of Technology – ranked 1 367th globally.
  14. Nelson Mandela University – ranked 1 474th globally.
  15. Cape Peninsula University of Technology – ranked 2 053rd globally.
  16. University of Limpopo – ranked 2 068th globally.
  17. Fort Hare University – ranked 2 292nd globally.
  18. University of Venda – ranked 2 340th globally.
  19. Sefako Makgotho Health Sciences University – ranked 2 445th globally.
  20. University of Zululand – ranked 2 738th globally.
  21. Vaal University of Technology – ranked 2 947th globally.
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