Cape Town-140217-Reporter, Chelsea Geach spoke with students and various role players at UCT regarding the cost of purchasing text books-Photographer-Tracey Adams

Cape Town - Five South African tertiary institutions, including UCT and Stellenbosch, have been ranked among the top 100 universities in the Brics countries and emerging economies.

UCT, ranked fourth overall, emerged as the top South African institution in The Times Higher Education Brics and Emerging Economies Rankings 2015, which were released on Wednesday.

Stellenbosch University also earned a spot in the top 20, climbing from 21 last year to 17.

Wits was 14th, the University of KwaZulu-Natal 47th and Pretoria University 77th.

“Some argue that South Africa has more important national priorities for improving basic education before it seeks to ensure its universities compete on the world stage - but these rankings show that it already has several institutions able to hold their own at a global level,” said Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education rankings.

UCT was already world renowned, “but these new (rankings) show that although Wits, Stellenbosch, KwaZulu-Natal and Pretoria may not yet be among the very best universities in the world, they are certainly very strong performers among the giant Brics nations. Strong universities at the forefront of new knowledge creation and innovation are essential for South Africa’s continued economic growth”.

China retained the top two spots with Peking University first and Tsinghua University second.

Apart from the Brics countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), 17 other countries were also analysed.

According to a statement, the tables were based on the same range of 13 indicators used to create the World University rankings “covering all aspects of the modern university’s core missions (teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook)”. These were “recalibrated to better reflect the character and development priorities of universities in the emerging economies”.

Dr Marilet Sienaert, UCT’s executive director: research office, said university rankings that focused on developing countries, such as the Brics, were valuable because universities in these countries faced challenges that differed from those in the “Global North”, mainly in transformation, building capacity and social responsiveness.

“It is particularly pleasing to see South Africa hold its own in these rankings, given the considerable funding that countries such as China invest in their universities. Despite not investing as much in higher education and research, South Africa continues to punch above its weight.”

Professor Leopoldt van Huyssteen, acting rector and vice-chancellor of Stellenbosch University, said: “The fact that Stellenbosch is included in some of the most well-known rankings is telling of a university that is receiving international recognition for the quality and stature of its teaching and research. In this regard Stellenbosch University has the highest number of weighted research outputs per academic staff member in South Africa.”

For the full results go to www.thewur.com.

Cape Argus