Best universities in Africa

Times Higher Education World University Rankings data reveal the top 15 universities in Africa

April 21, 2016
Globe showing map of Africa, Best universities in Africa
Source: iStock

South Africa’s University of Cape Town has topped a Times Higher Education snapshot ranking of the best universities in Africa thanks to its highly-cited research, a strong international outlook and an ability to attract large sums of money from industry.

It leads a strong showing for the country, which claims two-fifths (six) of the list’s 15 places, including the University of the Witwatersrand in second place, Stellenbosch University in third, the University of KwaZulu-Natal in fifth and the University of Pretoria in sixth place.

Uganda’s Makerere University is the only institution outside South Africa to make the top five in fourth place.

Overall, institutions from seven countries feature in the ranking, which uses the same methodology as the flagship THE World University Rankings. It has been published ahead of THE’s second Africa Universities Summit, which will be held at the University of Ghana from 27 to 29 April 2016.

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Egypt is the second-most represented nation in the table with three institutions – Suez Canal University, Alexandria University and Cairo University taking ninth, 10th and 11th place, respectively – while Morocco comes third with the University of Marrakech Cadi Ayyad in 12th place and Mohammed V University of Rabat in 15th place. Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda each have one institution in the ranking.

Nico Cloete, director of the Centre for Higher Education Trust and coordinator of the Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa, said that four institutions in the list – Cape Town, Makerere, Nairobi and Ghana – have “adopted strategies to become research-led flagship universities” in their country and seen “significant increases in doctoral graduates and research outputs during the last five years”.

A 2014 report, An Empirical Overview of Eight Flagship Universities in Africa: 2001-2011, co-written by Dr Cloete, found that of the institutions analysed, those outside South Africa enrolled “low proportions of postgraduate students”, ran “professional” master's programmes rather than ones that offered training in high-level research and had “high proportions of junior, under-qualified academics, leaving available low numbers of potential research leaders”.

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In contrast, it found that more than 30 per cent of students at the University of Cape Town in 2011 were postgraduate students while almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of its permanent academics had doctoral degrees.

Phil Baty, THE rankings editor, said: “This snapshot ranking is based on the same criteria as the World University Rankings but we are keen to develop a bespoke range of metrics, following a public consultation, for a full Africa University Ranking.”

The THE Africa Universities Summit will be on the theme “globalisation and policy directions for African higher education” and will discuss whether both public and private institutions are essential to a strong university sector in the continent and consider what are the best ways to educate Africa’s youth.

Best universities in Africa 2016: top 15

Rank Institution Country
1 University of Cape Town South Africa
2 University of the Witwatersrand South Africa
3 Stellenbosch University South Africa
4 Makerere University Uganda
5 University of KwaZulu-Natal South Africa
6 University of Pretoria South Africa
7 University of Ghana Ghana
8 University of Nairobi Kenya
9 Suez Canal University Egypt
10 Alexandria University Egypt
11 Cairo University Egypt
12 University of Marrakech Cadi Ayyad Morocco
13 University of South Africa South Africa
14 University of Ibadan Nigeria
15 Mohammed V University of Rabat Morocco

View the full results of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016

Source: THE DataPoints © THE
The University of Johannesburg does not feature in this ranking because it did not participate in the last THE rankings data collection process. Having submitted data under the current, 2016, round, it will be considered as part of future rankings.

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Reader's comments (1)

Oooh..."How you make the giants kneel Makerere University"!!! Gallant Makerere, Gallant Ivorians..!!! Go on fetch the 1st Position ,..You can make it Makerere University, i believe.

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