Top 10 Universities in South Africa [2020 Guide]

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These are the Top 10 Universities in South Africa for you — as the 2020 Guide for your best University selection.

Released today, the QS BRICS University Rankings features 12 top universities in South Africa, based on a methodology which assesses each institution on eight key performance indicators, including its research impact and reputation among academics and employers. The BRICS ranking, first launched in 2013, aims to highlight the 300 of the most prestigious institutions in the five major emerging economies of the BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Read on for an overview of the 10 highest-ranked South African universities in this year’s BRICS, plus information on how each institution performed in the latest QS World University Rankings® and QS World University Rankings by Subject.




Click here to read the 2019 version of this article, based on the QS BRICS University Rankings 2019.

1. University of Cape Town


Ranked 19th in this year’s BRICS and 191st in the world rankings, the University of Cape Town (UCT) is consistently ranked first among the top universities in South Africa. The oldest university in the country (founded in 1829 as the South African College), UTC is located on the slopes of Devil’s Peak at Table Mountain, giving it impressive views. UTC is aiming to be Africa’s leading research university and was ranked 26th in the BRICS ranking for its citations per faculty, a measure of research impact. It has about 29,000 students, many of whom come from outside South Africa, earning it 13th place for the international students indicator in BRICS.

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The University of Cape Town is currently featured in the QS World University Rankings by Subject for 35 out of a possible 46 subjects, achieving a placing of 10th for development studies, 47th for geography and a spot in the top 100 for other subjects such as anatomy & physiology, English language and literature, law studies, architecture and sports-related subjects.

2. University of the Witwatersrand

The next university in our list of the top universities in South Africa is based in Johannesburg, where the University of the Witwatersrand is ranked 36th in this year’s BRICS and joint 364th in the world. More commonly known as Wits University, the university was founded in 1896 as a mining school in Kimberley, and now has around 33,700 students and receives the strongest rank among South African universities for its proportion of international faculty. It counts among its alumni four Nobel Prize winners, including Nelson Mandela.

Living up to its background as a mining school, the University of the Witwatersrand was ranked in the top 50 internationally for mineral & mining engineering, and is joint 18th for development studies. It’s also ranked among the world’s best for a further 22 subjects.

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