Celebrating recent UCT accomplishments

16 May 2023

Dear colleagues and students

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has had several international milestones worth celebrating in the past few days. These include UCT retaining its top spot in Africa on the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR).

In addition, some of the university’s academics also recently had notable achievements in their fields. Among these is the election of the director of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine as a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society, and the awarding of the much sought-after Frontiers Planet Prize to the director of the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI).

1. UCT retains top spot in Africa on the CWUR

UCT remains the best university in Africa and has been ranked at 267th position globally, up three places from last year, by CWUR in their 2023 Global 2000 list, which was published on 15 May 2023. Out of the 20 531 institutions assessed, only the top 2 000 received a ranking, which places UCT in the top 1.4% of universities globally.

UCT highest ranked indicator is quality of education, which at 182nd position was down four places from last year. The alumni employment indicator (placed 224th) performed well and continued its climb, moving up 13 places compared to last year, which was also up 23 places on the previous year. The research performance indicator (ranked 245th) improved by five places compared to last year.

2. Election as Fellow of the Royal Society

Professor Valerie Mizrahi, the director of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine in the Faculty of Health Sciences, was among the 80 outstanding researchers, innovators and communicators from around the world who were on 10 May announced as the newest Fellows of the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s national academy of sciences and the oldest science academy in continuous existence.

They have been selected for their substantial contribution to the advancement of science – from using forensic techniques to identify victims of war crimes, to investigating processes in the earth’s core, and mapping the world’s largest peatlands in the Congo basin.

Professor Mizrahi is one of very few scientists from South Africa to have been elected as Fellows of the Royal Society. The other UCT academics elected as Fellows in previous years are Emeritus Professor George Ellis (2007) and Emeritus Professor William Bond (2021).

3. Awarding of the Frontiers Planet Prize

The director of the ACDI, Professor Mark New – along with researchers Petra Holden, Piotr Wolski, Romaric C Odoulami, Joyce Kimutai, Tiro Nkemelang, Kamoru A Lawal and collaborating researcher Alanna Rebelo from the Agricultural Research Council – have recently been awarded the prestigious Frontiers Planet Prize for their research on nature-based solutions and climate change.

The prize aims to directly fund and accelerate scientific research to stabilise our planetary ecosystem. The prize’s international champions each receive funding and worldwide exposure for their research. The prize money is awarded as a grant to the winner’s research institution to fund their continued research.

The winning research showed that restoration of catchments which are heavily invaded by woody alien plants can offset some of the anthropogenically derived drought risk. It also found that human influence on drought risk was already sufficiently large that catchment restoration could not completely offset climate change impacts.

UCT is proud to have once again proven its excellence in higher education by performing well in the prestigious CWUR. The university is also proud to witness its academics receiving international recognition for their outstanding work.

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