Cape Town - The University of Cape Town has made it on to a list of the top 10 universities in the Brics countries, in 10th place.
It is the only South African university to feature on the lists – although eight South African institutions are ranked in the top 100.
According to QS University Rankings, South Africa is a “force to be reckoned with in higher education in the African continent”. China claims six of the top 10 places, ahead of Brazil with two and Russia with one.
China has 71 institutions in the top 200, while Russia has 53 and South Africa 11.
The University of the Witwatersrand comes in at 31, with Stellenbosch University at 34. UWC is ranked at 92.
According to QS, academics are holding South African universities back in the ranking, with a relatively low number of PhDs – so low that none of the country’s universities reach the top 100 in this measure.
But when it comes to international involvement, Wits is in the top five for international faculty members, and UCT is in the top 10 for international faculty and students.
UCT rose one place in the overall ranking from 11th last year.
QS said UCT’s climb was thanks to its high ratio of citations per academic papers that was “superior to any of the universities represented in this year’s rankings”.
QS head of research Ben Sowter said: “UCT also scored well on number of international students and faculty, and in the academic reputation indicator.”
UCT refused to comment until its research office had had time to analyse the latest ranking.
The QS ranking compares the top institutions in developing nations Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
“At a time when government spending is stalling in much of the West, the Brics nations have set their sights on developing world-class universities sooner rather than later,” Sowter said.
QS said China was the Brics nation closest to the goal of developing a world-class higher education system. The top Brics institution is China’s Tsinghua University, with Peking University in second place.
The QS ranking takes eight key indicators into account, which fall under the areas of research, teaching, employability and international outlook.
In order of importance, the indicators are: academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty member to student ratio, number of staff with a PhD, number of research papers published by academic staff, how often these papers are cited by other researchers, percentage of faculty members who are international and percentage of international students.