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University of Cape Town is the best in South Africa while Stellenbosch University, University of KwaZulu-Natal, and University of Pretoria round up the top five universities.

The CWUR ranked University of Cape Town above every other South African University using its methodology of seven performance criteria, which include quality of education, quality of academic faculty staff, alumni employment, and overall research performance.

The latter comprising research-related factors, including the quantity of research output publications, as well as those research output publications of the highest quality, influence and impact, which appear in top-tier and highly influential journals, and which are highly cited.

The University of Johannesburg, along with the University of South Africa (Unisa) are the only two ranked South African universities to improve their positioning on the ranking in the last year.

University of Johannesburg improved its placement by 55 to rank 706th overall, while University of South African (Unisa) improved 8 places, to 1,409. All other local universities dropped down the rankings.

Top 15 Universities in South Africa, 2020

University World Rank
University of Cape Town 268
University of Witwatersrand 275
Stellenbosch University 429
University of KwaZulu-Natal 477
University of Pretoria 578
University of Johannesburg 706
North-West University 922
University of the Western Cape 1158
University of the Free State 1200
Rhodes University 1295
University of South Africa 1409
Nelson Mandela University 1655
Tshwane University of Technology 1936

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Since 2012, the CWUR World University Rankings independently measure a university’s quality of education and training of students, as well as the prestige of their academic staff members and the quality of their research, without relying on reputational surveys and university data submissions.

For the 2020-21 edition of the CWUR World University Rankings, 20,000 higher education institutions were evaluated, with only the top 2,000 making the cut by attaining a ranking placement on the final league table.

Methodology

CWUR grades universities on seven factors without relying on surveys and university data submissions: quality of teaching, alumni employment, quality of faculty, research output, high-quality publications, influence, and citations.