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SA’s University of Cape Town Ranks Best in Africa in the World University Rankings 2021

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The University of Cape Town (UCT) has retained its spot as the continent’s top university, despite a drop of 19 places, tying at 155th among more that 1 500 institutions in the 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, which were published on Wednesday, 2 September 2020.

The THE World University Rankings, published once a year, assesses institutions worldwide across 13 performance indicators in five areas: teaching (30%), research (30%), citations (30%), international outlook (7.5%) and industry income (2.5%).

UCT’s performance across these indicators was mixed, with drops in some areas offset by raised scores in others, compared to the previous year. It is worth noting that an increased score does not always lead to an increase in places, since rankings are relative and other universities whose scores increased more would push UCT’s performance down. Similarly, a small drop in score can lead to a significant drop in places.

Ten other South African universities were included in the rankings, with the University of the Witwatersrand (201-250) and Stellenbosch University (251-300) in second and third place respectively. The University of KwaZulu-Natal (351-400) and Durban University of Technology (401-500) were the only other South African universities within the global top 500.

Other African universities in the top 500 include Egypt’s Aswan University and Mansoura University (both ranked 401-500), Nigeria’s University of Ibadan (401-500) and Uganda’s Makerere University (401-500).

The University of Oxford leads the THE rankings for the fifth consecutive year, followed by Stanford University in second spot and Harvard University in third place.

The full top 10 in the Times Higher Education version (with last year’s position in brackets) is:

  1. 1 (1) Oxford University (U.K.)
  2. 2 (4) Stanford University (U.S.)
  3. 3 (7) Harvard University (U.S.)
  4. 4 (2) California Institute of Technology (U.S.)
  5. 5 (5) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (U.S.)
  6. 6 (3) Cambridge University (U.K.)
  7. 7 (13) University of California, Berkeley (U.S.)
  8. 8 (8) Yale University (U.S.)
  9. 9 (6) Princeton University (U.S.)
  10. 10 (9) University of Chicago (U.S.)




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