UCT has been ranked 179th in the Times Higher Education QS World University Rankings 2008, climbing 21 spots from 200th place last year.
The Times Higher Education rankings are considered a primary benchmark for comparing universities across borders.
UCT is the only African university to have been listed in the top 200. It was ranked 257th in 2006.
Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price said: "Of course we are pleased that we have done well and that we have improved our position in the Times Higher Education rankings. However, league tables like this use a limited and biased range of indicators to attempt to measure and compare universities.
"The differences between various universities and the financial, historical, social, political and cultural variances make comparative information obtained in this way controversial. Key imperatives for African universities might often not even feature on the list of criteria tested."
Dr Price added: "There is often a bias towards larger, English, Western style universities and most definitely a lack of recognition for the humanities and creative arts. So while we take note of our position in the ranking, we are also conscious of the shortcomings of the measuring tool.
"I should also add that as an institution, UCT constantly measures the quality of our work against our own set of criteria. This is an ongoing process aimed at continuously improving and strengthening our institution."
This year's THE-QS World University Rankings have reflected the increasing value attached to technology. Many top technology-based universities improved their position, a fact linked to the demand by international employers for more technology-literate graduates.
The Top 10 list was still dominated by institutions from the US and UK. Harvard University kept their top spot, with Yale moving ahead of Cambridge for the second spot. Oxford dropped to fourth, while Princeton dropped out of the Top 10, replaced by the only new entrant in the Top 10, Columbia University.
Among the top 100 of the ranked universities were 13 Asian institutions, the same figure as in 2007. The number of North American universities in the top 100 dropped to 42, from 43 in 2007.
Another striking trend was the "unprecedented" response levels to the survey - 6 354 academics (compared with 5 101 in 2007), and 2 339 employers (compared with 1 482 in 2007).
Universities from 33 different countries (28 countries in 2007) are represented among the top 100 of the 200 institutions ranked.
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