South African institutions top THE Africa rankings pilot

Times Higher Education creates a top 15 table for Africa’s academies ahead of the inaugural THE Africa Universities Summit on 30-31 July

July 9, 2015
Jameson Hall, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Source: Alamy
High spot: University of Cape Town

South Africa is the top performer in a snapshot of what a new ranking for African universities could look like.

The University of Cape Town is first place in a top 15 table based on research influence drawn up by Times Higher Education, while its national rival, the University of the Witwatersrand, comes second.

In third place, a lone Ugandan institution – Makerere University – bridges South Africa’s domination of the top five, with Stellenbosch University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal taking fourth and fifth place respectively.

Overall, South African institutions make up more than half the list with eight universities featured, while Morocco has two institutions represented: the University of Marrakech Cadi Ayyad at 10th and the University of Hassan II Casablanca at 15th.

The ranking was formulated using Elsevier’s Scopus database to highlight some of the continent’s top performers in terms of how often research papers are referred to and cited by other academics across the globe, ahead of THE’s inaugural Africa Universities Summit. The full table containing the top 30 universities in the region will be revealed at the event, which is being held at the University of Johannesburg on 30 and 31 July 2015.

The summit will hold the first public consultation on proposals for a full THE Africa University Rankings, which would be based on the foundations of the flagship THE World University Rankings but would feature a bespoke range of metrics designed to meet the region’s specific challenges.

Phil Baty, THE rankings editor, said: “This is an experimental and preliminary ranking based solely on research, and only on one aspect of research – how many times research papers are cited by other academics.

“When we develop a full Africa University Ranking, we expect to add many more indicators, examining things like a university’s economic contribution, its civic engagement and, of course, its teaching.”

The top 15 snapshot was calculated using the ratio of the citations received by an institution’s publication output between 2009 and 2013 and the total citations that would be expected based on the average of the subject field. To be included in the table, an institution must have published a minimum of 500 research papers in the five-year period assessed with at least 50 papers per year.

THE’s Africa Universities Summit will look at topics including higher education funding in the continent and preventing brain drain. Speakers will include Mabel Imbuga, vice-chancellor of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology; Rwekaza Mukandala, vice-chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam; and Cheryl de la Rey, vice-chancellor of the University of Pretoria and vice-chair of the US-based Talloires Network, an international association of universities committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education.

Top 15 African universities by research influence

Top 15 African universities by research influence (small)


Article originally published as: South Africa dominates in top tier of rankings pilot (9 July 2015)

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Reader's comments (1)

Do UCT have pilot studies?