What are the top 10 best universities in South Africa? Which universities in South Africa rank highest in terms of impact in research and development? Which of all South Africa’s 123 universities are the best?
Best SA Universities Based on Research and Development Impact
This post gives you the highest-ranking universities in South Africa for 2022 in terms of resea4ch and development impact, according to data collected by The Times Higher Education Rankings 2022. You can take a look at the full list here.
Africa has a total of 1896 universities. Nigeria has the highest number of universities in West Africa and even the whole of Africa with at least 262 higher learning institutions, followed by Tunisia with 206 universities. Morocco and Kenya have 153 and 129 respectively, and South Africa has the fifth-highest number of universities.
South African universities have always dominated the list of top-ranked universities on the African continent, always taking up more than half of the top 10 best universities in Africa. The names on this list are familiar in almost every African universities ranking.
List of 10 Best Universities in South Africa
Now on to the list of best universities in Nigeria, also the most preferred universities in the country sorted into best in research and human development;
University of Cape Town (UCT) is an inclusive and engaged research-intensive African university that inspires creativity through outstanding achievements in learning, discovery and citizenship; enhancing the lives of its students and staff, advancing a more equitable and sustainable social order and influencing the global higher education landscape.
In terms of full university status, it is the oldest university in South Africa and the oldest extant university in Sub-Saharan Africa together with Stellenbosch University which received full university status on the same day in 1918.
Although UCT was founded by a private act of Parliament in 1918, the Statute of the University of Cape Town (issued in 2002 in terms of the Higher Education Act) sets out its structure and roles and places the Chancellor – currently, Dr Precious Moloi Motsepe – as the ceremonial figurehead and invests real leadership authority in the Vice-Chancellor, currently Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, who is accountable to the University Council.
UCT is the highest-ranked African university in the QS World University Rankings, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities, and its Commerce, Law, and Medicine Faculties are consistently placed among the hundred best internationally.
It is the only African member of the Global University Leaders Forum (GULF), within the World Economic Forum, which is made up of 26 of the world’s top universities. Five alumni, staff members and researchers associated with UCT have won the Nobel Prize. As of March 2020, 35 UCT staff members are A-rated NRF researchers (constituting 30% of the national total) and 88 staff members are members of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa.
Stellenbosch University (Afrikaans: Universiteit Stellenbosch) is a public research university situated in Stellenbosch, a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Stellenbosch is the oldest university in South Africa and the oldest extant university in Sub-Saharan Africa together with the University of Cape Town which received full university status on the same day in 1918. Stellenbosch University (abbreviated as SU) designed and manufactured Africa’s first microsatellite, SUNSAT, launched in 1999.
Stellenbosch University was the first African university to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.
The students of Stellenbosch University are nicknamed “Maties”. The term probably arises from the Afrikaans word “tamatie” (meaning tomato, and referring to the maroon sport uniforms and blazer colour). An alternative theory is that the term comes from the Afrikaans colloquialism maat (meaning “buddy” or “mate”) originally used diminutively (“maatjie”) by the students of the University of Cape Town’s precursor, the South African College.
University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University) is taking the lead in reimagining trendy Braamfontein to further our contribution in delivering high-level scarce skills for the global knowledge economy. Our location in Johannesburg, the economic and industrial heartland of the African continent, places us in good stead to interact with the public and private sectors, civil society and other social agents to effect meaningful change in society.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal was formed on 1 January 2004 as a result of the merger between the University of Durban-Westville and the University of Natal. The new university brings together the rich histories of both the former Universities.
The University of Durban-Westville was established in the 1960s as the University College for Indians on Salisbury Island in Durban Bay. Student numbers throughout the 1960s were low as a result of the Congress Alliances’ policy of shunning apartheid structures. This policy gave way in the 1980s to a strategy of “education under protest” which sought to transform apartheid institutions into sites of struggle.
Student numbers grew rapidly and in 1971, the College was granted University status. The following year, the newly-named University of Durban-Westville moved into its modern campus in Westville and was a site of major anti-apartheid struggle. UDW became an autonomous institution in 1984, opening up to students of all races.
Founded in 1910 as the Natal University College in Pietermaritzburg, the University of Natal was granted independent university status in 1949 owing to its rapid growth in numbers, its wide range of courses and its achievements in and opportunities for research. By that time, the NUC was already a multi-campus institution, having been extended to Durban after World War 1.
The distinctive Howard College building was opened in 1931, following a donation by Mr T B Davis, whose son Howard Davis was killed during the Battle of Somme in World War I. In 1946, the government approved a Faculty of Agriculture in Pietermaritzburg and, in 1947, a Medical School for African, Indian and Coloured students in Durban.
The two KwaZulu-Natal universities were among the first batch of South African institutions to merge in 2004 in accordance with the government’s higher educational restructuring plans that will eventually see the number of higher educational institutions in South Africa reduced from 36 to 21. Confirmed by a Cabinet decision in December 2002, the mergers are the culmination of a wide-ranging consultative process on the restructuring of the Higher Education Sector that began in the early 1990s.
The Durban University of Technology (DUT) is a university in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It was formed in 2002 following the merger of Technikon Natal and ML Sultan Technikon and it was initially known as the Durban Institute of Technology. It has five campuses in Durban, and two in Pietermaritzburg.
In April 2021, approximately 30439 students were enrolled to study at DUT. The University is one of five technical institutions on the African continent to offer Doctoral Degrees. The current Chancellor is Nonkululeko Nyembezi.
The Durban University of Technology is a result of the merger, in April 2002, of two technikons, ML Sultan and Technikon Natal. It was named the Durban Institute of Technology and later became the Durban University of Technology in 2007.
KwaZulu-Natal’s Indian population began arriving in the 1860s to primarily work as indentured labourers on the sugar plantations. In 1927, those with no formal educational qualifications were threatened with repatriation.
This threat stimulated adult classes in literacy, as well as a range of commercial subjects, held in a mission school and a Hindu Institute, but it was not until after the Second World War, and thanks to substantial financial support from the public, that ML Sultan College came into being.
It would be another decade, however, before the City Council, now preoccupied with the structures of the first Group Areas Act of 1950, allocated suitable land for a permanent campus.
The Natal Technical College was founded in 1907 and immediately began providing tuition to more than 350 part-time students. The structures of apartheid as it was codified through legislation weighed heavily on this institution as well. In 1955 the college was taken over by national education authorities, and in 1967 it became an exclusively white institution.
The NWU is committed to functioning as a unitary, integrated, multi-campus university that enables equity, redress and globally competitive teaching and research across all three of our campuses. Our core activities, teaching-learning and research, are intertwined with community engagement and innovation in our eight faculties, most of which serve both distance and contact students.
The NWU offers more than just an education: we offer people a place in the world. Academically, students benefit from great choice and flexibility, enabling them to fulfil their potential and start preparing for their careers.
Through collaboration with other universities and institutions internationally, we are part of the global higher education community. Our internationalisation activities include student and staff exchange and cooperation in academic, research, cultural and sports matters.
As we like to say in our University Anthem: “where the willow trees grow and the thorn tree spreads its shade, there you will grow in knowledge.
Vibrant, multicultural and dynamic, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) shares the pace and energy of cosmopolitan Johannesburg, the city whose name it carries. Proudly South African, the university is alive down to its African roots, and well-prepared for its role in actualising the potential that higher education holds for the continent’s development.
UJ has transformed into a diverse, inclusive, transformational and collegial institution, with a student population of over 50 000, of which more than 3000 are international students from 80 countries. This makes UJ one of the largest contact universities in South Africa (SA) from the 26 public universities that make up the higher education system.
The vision of the UJ is to be “an international University of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future”. The mission can be described as follows: “inspiring its community to transform and serve humanity through innovation and the collaborative pursuit of knowledge”. These are underpinned by four values, namely: imagination, conversation, regeneration and ethical foundation.
The University of Pretoria (UP) is one of Africa’s top universities and the largest contact university in South Africa. We produce socially impactful research to find solutions for the world’s most pressing issues. UP has a high quality of teaching and learning in the classroom, online, or in communities.
University of Pretoria has support in place for our students to graduate on time as well-rounded, responsible citizens fully prepared for the world beyond university.
The University of the Western Cape (UWC) was founded in 1960 and occupies a unique space in the South African higher education landscape.
It is a dynamic institution committed to excellence in learning, teaching, research and innovation in a globally competitive environment whilst remaining true to the values and ethos that have shaped its identity as a university rooted in serving the public good.
Unisa is Africa’s leading distance learning institution nurturing inspiring leaders of tomorrow. We are a reputable, comprehensive, flexible and accessible open distance learning institution that is motivating a future generation. We offer internationally accredited qualifications and have world-class resources.
Our vision “towards the African university shaping futures in the service of humanity” drives us to find answers to Africa’s educational and developmental problems. By forming partnerships in Africa and throughout the world, we are able to help the people of Africa achieve their dreams.