The thirteenth edition of the QS World University Rankings, compiled by global higher education think tank QS Quacquarelli Symonds, yesterday confirmed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as the top global institution for a fifth consecutive year.
Two of South Africa’s top-400 universities dropped in the global rankings this year, with the University of Cape Town dropping twenty places. It now ranks 191st, but is still South Africa’s highest-ranked university.
According to the report, South African institutions struggled across all of QS’s metrics this year, with seven of nine universities seeing their rank reduced for academic reputation. Seven of the nine universities also saw their rank reduced for employer reputation, while the same number dropped rank for lower teaching quality.
“The relative research impact of South African universities decreased this year. Six of South Africa’s ranked universities saw lower ranks for citations per faculty, while the three that improved their research performance were the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Pretoria, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal,” it stated.
Ben Sowter, head of research at QS’s Intelligence Unit, suggested that South Africa’s performance followed this year’s global trend, which emphasised the importance of targeted, prolonged investment.
He noted that South Africa’s universities had been suffering funding shortfalls for a period of years now, and that recent fee freezes continued to exacerbate this shortfall.