UCT retains top position in Africa

28 September 2023 | Story Staff writer. Photo Jean Claude Nsabimana. Read time 3 min.
UCT remains Africa’s top performer in latest world rankings.
UCT remains Africa’s top performer in latest world rankings.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) remains the top university on the continent in this year’s World University Rankings published by Times Higher Education (THE) on Wednesday, 27 September.

The university was well placed at 167th position on the THE global performance table, which ranked 1 904 universities. Published annually, this ranking assesses institutions globally across various performance indicators.

“These results are testament to the outstanding work and commitment of our university community without which our consistently high rankings would not be possible,” said Vice-Chancellor interim Emeritus Professor Daya Reddy.

“The deep disciplinary expertise, together with the great and rapid growing interdisciplinary work across our academic departments, and the geographical advantage of our location, all allow us to make valuable contributions to knowledge that has an impact on our continent – and beyond;  contributing to the growth of African and global knowledge.”


The methodology for the 20th edition of the THE World University Rankings has been updated considerably. THE have moved from 13 to 18 performance indicators (although a new one, studying abroad has zero weighting and will only be counted in the future).

The performance indicators are still grouped into five main areas (some names have been tweaked and weightings adjusted):

  • research quality (citation impact and three new metrics: research strength, research excellence and research influence) 30%
  • teaching – the learning environment (teaching reputation, student-to-staff ratio, doctorate-to-bachelor ratio, doctorate-awarded-to-staff ratio and institutional income) 29.5%
  • research environment (productivity, income and reputation) 29%
  • international outlook (staff, students and co-authorship) 7.5%
  • industry (income and a new metric, patents) 4%.

UCT’s performance

UCT was ranked 167th worldwide and improved its performance in each of the five main areas. This is because rankings are relative, and some other institutions in a similar position improved even more than UCT.

UCT’s greatest strength is research quality (these metrics are based on various measures of citations, which are the number of times a piece of research is cited). Here the university is ranked 148th globally.

In the research environment area, UCT ranked 167th, moving up 24 places compared to last year.

UCT placed at 210th for international outlook and went up 61 places to 287th position for industry.

In the teaching area, UCT’s scores increased in four of the five metrics and the university was ranked at 343rd position, 37 places higher than in the previous year.

Top global performance

The University of Oxford tops the ranking for the eighth consecutive year. Stanford University takes second place, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) moves into third. Harvard University takes the fourth spot, and the University of Cambridge is placed fifth.

Earlier this year UCT once again took the top place in Africa in the Centre for World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings and the ShanghaiRanking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities.

UCT is also the top university on the continent in the US News & World Report Best Global Universities Rankings. A new release is expected next month.

View the complete THE World University Rankings 2024.

Read more about the updated THE World University Rankings 2024 methodology.

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