South Africa’s tertiary academic institutions continue to be ranked among the best in the world


South Africa has a strong reputation for tertiary academic excellence, which translates into high international interest for students looking to study in the country as well as a high standard of  South African qualifications abroad. The country’s institutions boast qualities such as good governance, research productivity, academic capacity and innovation which make it a high-ranking study destination in Africa and beyond.



A  Global Reputation Study conducted by Brand South Africa and launched in June shows  South Africa’s ranking  compared to 10 markets, across 4 continents, in relation to perceptions on exports, investments, talent, tourism, and general reputation. The study found that over 55% of surveyed individuals saw South Africa as a desirable study destination, with 46% positively attributing this view to the country’s diverse culture and people, and 43% attracted by the great academic programmes on offer.



Various rankings that assess university performance on a global stage support this outlook and hold South African universities in high regard.



All 26 of South Africa’s universities were listed on a new global ranking of universities based on the quality and quantity of their research, as well as accessibility of their online content. Released in August 2022, the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities considered over 31 000 higher learning institutions.



The University of Cape Town (UCT) was the highest ranked South African university which occupied the 245th position, followed by the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) at 394, Stellenbosch University at 437 and the University of Pretoria (UP) at 447.



Announced in  October 2022,  UCT achieved the best ranking for a South African higher education institution in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2023. The ranking includes 1,799 universities across 104 countries and regions, making them the largest and most diverse university rankings to date. The rankings assessed 13 performance indicators across four areas: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.



UCT improved by 23 places from the previous year to rank 160th. Stellenbosch University and Wits were next, ranking in the 251–300 grouping. The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) was in the 401–500 category; and the Durban University of Technology at 501–600. The University of Johannesburg (UJ), North West University and the University of the Western Cape were at 601–800.



The US News Rankings has recently also published its latest Best Global University Ranking for 2022/23, listing 7 South African universities among the best in the world. The rankings looked at the top 2,000 tertiary institutions globally, ranking them with a specific focus on academic research and overall reputation. UCT came out on top in South Africa, taking the 125th position. This is followed by WITS (ranking 244), Stellenbosch University (ranking 304) UKZN (ranking 370), UJ (421), the University of Pretoria (452) and North West University (487).



Overall, South Africa’s universities are most represented in the fields of infectious diseases, immunology, public health, and ecology. Other fields include optics, space science and business science.



These recognitions reflect South Africa’s commitment to academic excellence and are well-deserved affirmations of the country’s international competitiveness in academic quality offerings. Furthermore, these acknowledgements are that much more meaningful as the country’s public institutions navigate a dynamic global economy which has been further affected by the COVID19 pandemic. South African institutions have fared well, largely due to their adaptability and consistent innovation, giving them a competitive edge and international reverence.




About Brand South Africa

Brand South Africa is the official marketing agency of South Africa, with a mandate to build the country’s brand reputation, in order to improve its global competitiveness. Its aim is also to build pride and patriotism among South Africans, in order to contribute to social cohesion and nation brand ambassadorship.


About Play Your Part

Play Your Part is a nationwide programme created to inspire, empower and celebrate active citizenship in South Africa.  It aims to lift the spirit of our nation by inspiring all South Africans to contribute to positive change, become involved and start doing. A nation of people who care deeply for one another and the environment in which they live is good for everyone.

Play Your Part is aimed at all South Africans – from corporates and individuals, NGOs and government, churches and schools, from the young to the not-so-young.  It aims to encourage South Africans to use some of their time, money, skills or goods to contribute to a better future for all.