UCT the only SA university in The Times' top 200

02 September 2020 - 13:00 By Ernest Mabuza
UCT is 155th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021. This year marked a milestone as China’s Tsinghua University disrupted the domination of western universities by breaking into the top 20.
UCT is 155th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021. This year marked a milestone as China’s Tsinghua University disrupted the domination of western universities by breaking into the top 20.
Image: SUNDAY TIMES

The University of Cape Town (UCT) is SA's lone representative in the top 200 of the Times Higher Education World Top University Rankings for 2021 released on Wednesday.

The institution was ranked 155, down from 136 the previous year.

This time last year, the University of the Witwatersrand occupied joint 194th spot. Next was Stellenbosch University in the 251—300 bracket and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the 401—500 band. The University of Johannesburg was ranked in the 601—800 bracket.

The 2021 rankings placed the UK's Oxford University in the top spot for the fifth consecutive year. The US, however, dominated the top 10, claiming a record eight positions.

International university rankings 2021
International university rankings 2021
Image: Graphic: Nolo Moima

The US institutions in the top 10 are Stanford University (2), Harvard University (3), California Institute of Technology (4), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (5), University of California, Berkeley (7), Yale University (8), Princeton University (9) and University of Chicago (10). 

China’s Tsinghua University is the first Asian university to make the top 20, where it is ranked joint 20th with the US's Duke University.

The University of Cambridge, at six, was the only other UK institution in the top 10.

The 2021 rankings include 1,527 universities across 93 countries and regions.

The table is based on 13 performance indicators that measure an institution’s performance across teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

The US has 59 institutions in the top 200, followed by the UK (29), Germany (21), Australia (12), the Netherlands (11), Canada (eight), China, South Korea and Switzerland (seven each) and France, Hong Kong and Sweden (five each).

Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at Times Higher Education, said it had observed the rise of Asia in the world rankings for several years.

He said this year marked a major milestone as mainland China’s Tsinghua University disrupted the traditional domination of western universities at the top of the table, breaking into the top 20 for the first time.

“This new ranking provides further clear evidence of a shift in the balance of power in the global knowledge economy from the established higher education systems in the West to those in parts of the East,” Baty said.

He said this trend was likely to accelerate as the coronavirus pandemic heralds huge challenges for primarily western universities, particularly those in the US and UK, which face the risk of losing significant international student talent and the billions of dollars in fees they bring.

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