UCT ranked top by yet another international body

06 September 2021 | VC Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng

Dear colleagues and students

The University of Cape Town (UCT) is springing into the new season with a spring in our step following the release of the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings on Thursday, 2 September.

UCT continues to be the continent’s top university, tying with the University of Notre Dame (US) at 183rd. More than 1 600 institutions were ranked in the 2022 THE rankings.

This comes just over two weeks after UCT moved one spot up to be ranked highest in the continent in the ShanghaiRanking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2021. UCT was ranked in the 201–300 band in the ARWU rankings, published on 15 August 2021.

The recent set of rankings by THE and ARWU confirm UCT as the highest ranked university in Africa on all five major world university rankings, including Quacquarelli Symonds (released in June 2021), Center for World University Rankings (released in April 2021) and US News & World Report Best Global Universities Rankings (released in October 2020).

Although the rankings are but just a lense which does not fully indicate the impact of the university in other crucial areas such as social responsiveness, we are pleased to note that UCT continues doing well on the international arena while remaining the best for Africa. The high spots that UCT continues to occupy on the various top-ranking bodies are a testament to the work done by our researchers, to the support staff and to each and everyone at UCT who works tirelessly to continue elevating this university to greater heights. Many staff members contribute in countless different ways to ensure that the university’s ship continues sailing in a sea of excellence.

We note that the attainment of being top on the continent in all five rankings comes during a particularly challenging period, with the obvious COVID-19 pandemic and the most recent #UCTFire being but a few of what we had to navigate. Yet it is through the dedication and hard work by staff and students alike that we continue exhibiting this level of excellence that has seen us remain among the best in the world.

The THE World University Rankings assess 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 improved in the teaching category (the learning environment), jumping 23 places compared to the previous year. Good increases were achieved in the scores of the ratios of doctorate to bachelor awarded, doctorate awarded to academic staff and in the institutional income to academic staff.

Despite a drop in the positions of the other categories compared to last year, some indicators performed well.

In the research category (volume, income and reputation), scores increased for papers to academic staff and research income to academic staff, confirming UCT’s continued contribution to local and global knowledge through innovative research.

In the international outlook category (international staff, students and research collaborations), the co-authorship score held steady, highlighting that UCT has sustained its collaborations with international partners.


Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

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