Top 10 Universities in South Africa – Times Higher Education Rankings
The top 10 universities in South Africa have been ranked by the international ranking organization, Times Higher Education. Check out our list below to see if these institutions are a good fit for you!

Students from all over the world are flocking to South Africa to further their education. Every year, 45,000 overseas students attend South African universities— and the numbers are continually on the rise.

| ALSO READ: South Africa aiming to take back title as Africa’s leading destination

Why Study in South Africa?

International students have discovered that studying in South Africa is less expensive than in other countries. Despite this, the quality of education being offered is at par, and sometimes even exceeds, international standards. Case in point, South Africa is home to universities that rank within the top 500 global rankings.

In this article, Scholarships for Africans names the top 10 universities in South Africa that you might want to look into.

The Best Universities in South Africa According to THE Rankings

10. Rhodes University

To start off the list of the top 10 universities in South Africa, we have Rhodes University. It is located in Grahamstown, South Africa’s Eastern Cape region, and is known as a modest university with one of the best undergraduate pass and graduation rates in the country, great postgraduate success rates, and the top research output per academic staff member. This is a testament to the kind of students Rhodes attracts, the academic offerings, and the Rhodes staff’s dedication to student development and success. Rhodes is a dynamic and multicultural knowledge institution with over 7,000 students, 26 percent of whom are postgraduates and 20% of whom are international students from 40 countries throughout the world.

In the faculties of Humanities, Science, Commerce, Pharmacy, Law, and Education, students can pursue a wide range of undergraduate and doctoral degrees. Rhodes students benefit from the best academic staff-to-student ratio among South African universities, ensuring easy access to professors and tight supervision. Where Leaders Learn is the university’s motto, and it takes pride in producing graduates who are well-versed intellectuals, skilled professionals, and critical, caring, and compassionate citizens who can contribute to economic and social development as well as an equitable, just, and democratic society.

9. University of South Africa (UNISA)

The University of South Africa (UNISA) is Africa’s foremost distance learning university, cultivating tomorrow’s outstanding leaders. The institution is a reputable, comprehensive, flexible, and accessible open distance learning institution that inspires a new generation of learners. They have internationally recognized credentials and world-class resources.

UNISA’s mission, “towards the African university in service of mankind,” inspires us to find solutions to Africa’s educational and developmental challenges. The university aims to assist the people of Africa in realizing their aspirations by building partnerships in Africa and around the world. Teaching, research, and community participation are UNISA’s three main business sectors.

8. University of the Western Cape (UWC)

The University of the Western Cape is a public university in Cape Town, South Africa, located in the Bellville neighborhood. Western Cape has a long history of innovative resistance to injustice, discrimination, and disadvantage. It has been at the forefront of South Africa’s historic shift, playing a unique academic role in assisting in the development of an equitable and dynamic nation. UWC’s main concerns about higher education access, equity, and quality stem from considerable practical participation in assisting the historically marginalized to fully participate in the nation’s life.

7. University of Pretoria

The University of Pretoria (UP) is a multi-faculty, research-intensive university that ranks among the top universities in South Africa for research output and impact, as well as producing the biggest number of graduates each year. With campuses in Pretoria and its environs, as well as Johannesburg, the country’s commercial center, UP is conveniently located near government institutions, diplomatic missions, and significant research institutes.

Economic and Management Sciences, Education, Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Theology and Religion, Veterinary Science (currently the only faculty in this discipline in South Africa), and the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) are the nine faculties and business school at the university. Furthermore, there are 140 academic departments and 85 research centers, institutes, and divisions that offer academic programs.

6. University of Johannesburg

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is a vibrant, multicultural, and energetic institution that reflects the pace and intensity of cosmopolitan Johannesburg, the city whose name it bears. The University is proudly South African, and it is well-prepared to play a part in realizing the potential that higher education holds for the continent’s growth.

5. Northwest University (NWU)

Northwest University is dedicated to operating as a unitary, integrated, multi-campus university that promotes equity, redress, and globally competitive teaching and research on all three of its campuses. In NWU’s eight faculties, community engagement and innovation are linked. They serve both distance and contact students, our primary activities, teaching-learning, and research.

4. University of Kwazulu Natal

Among the top 10 universities in South Africa is the Institution of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), a teaching and research-led university, is one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest, oldest, and most changed universities.

UKZN has gained a reputation as a prominent higher education institution on the African continent thanks to innovative curricula, dynamic teaching and learning, state-of-the-art laboratories, and validated professional degrees. In terms of research production, the University is the top-ranked state-funded university in South Africa. Natural, biological, humanities, and social sciences are all represented in research.

The university supports educational and employment opportunities for those from historically disadvantaged backgrounds. It also promotes transformation and redress and aspires to provide an enabling atmosphere for all of its students in order to enable individual intellectual growth, social responsibility awareness, and sound ethical practice in our varied society.

In addition, UKZN’s worldwide relationships in 46 countries allow for direct interaction and global intellectual exchange, which benefits scholarly work and the student experience.

3. Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University (SU) is a South African institution with a global reach. It has evolved into a South African higher education institution with the mission of being the continent’s top research-intensive university, to be worldwide recognized as excellent, inclusive, and innovative, and to promote knowledge in the service of society.

SU is a research-intensive university that attracts exceptional students, employs talented staff, and provides a world-class environment; it is a place connected to the globe, enriching and reshaping local, continental, and worldwide communities, as stated in its purpose. ​

2. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

The University of the Witwatersrand, also known as “Wits,” sprang out of the South African School of Mines, which was founded in Kimberley in 1896. In 1904, the college relocated to Johannesburg, and in 1922, it was granted full university status. It was founded on a policy of non-discrimination on the basis of race, which led to a considerable dispute with the government during the apartheid era, including police raids and the arrest of both staff and students.

The most famous alumnus of the university is Nelson Mandela, who studied law there and went on to become President of South Africa and the 1993 Nobel laureate for peace. The novelist Nadine Gordimer (Nobel Prize for Literature, 1991) also attended for a year, while Aaron Klug (Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 1982) and Sydney Brenner (Nobel Prize for Medicine, 2002) both took their first degrees at Wits.

1. University of Cape Town

Topping our list of the top 10 universities in South Africa is The University of Cape Town (UCT) is a multicultural, multinational community of around 5 000 academic and professional, administrative support and service staff, and some 29 000 students who come from over 100 countries across the globe. Offering degrees in six faculties – Commerce, Engineering & the Built Environment, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law and Science – UCT sees around 7,200 students graduate year on year.

UCT’s vision is to be an inclusive, research-intensive African university that addresses the challenges of the times with cutting-edge teaching, research, and facilities. As a university, UCT is committed to promoting transformation, to working tirelessly to guarantee the sustainability of our institution, and to ensuring excellence in all they do.


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