41 African universities from 10 countries on list of QS rankings.

Five South African universities lead a group of 41 African universities that have been ranked in the 20th edition of the QS World University Rankings 2024, released on 27 June. All five have improved from last year and are among the top 500 institutions globally.

The University of Cape Town is the top university in Africa and is in 173rd position globally, an improvement from 237th position last year. In second position on the continent is the University of the Witwatersrand, which is 264th globally, while the third slot has been taken by Stellenbosch University after leaping from 454th position last year to number 283.

The University of Johannesburg, fourth on the continent, has also improved its ranking as it moved to position 306th from last year’s global placement at 412th. Much improvement has been made by the University of Pretoria, which jumped from the 591-600 bracket last year to 323rd position globally and fifth in Africa.

But, whereas South Africa provides the highest number of universities that are highly ranked, Egypt, with 15 universities, has the largest number of universities that has been ranked, followed by South Africa with 11 institutions, an improvement on last year’s nine universities.

A total of 10 African countries are in the QS ranking. The rest are: Tunisia with four, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Sudan with two each and Ethiopia, Morocco as well as Uganda with one university each.

75% of Africa’s institutions improved positions

According to Simona Bizzozero, the communications director at QS Quacquarelli Symonds, the network that produces the QS World University Rankings, 75% of ranked African universities have improved in the current edition.

For instance, Cairo University, the Egyptian university in sixth position in Africa, has jumped from the 551-600 category last year to 371st position. The American University in Cairo, in seventh slot on the continent, improved marginally from 416th to 415th position.

South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal has also showed resilience by not just remaining among the top 1,000 universities globally but moved from the 801-1,000 cohort last year to the category of 621-630 to be in eighth position on the continent.

Ninth and 10th positions on the continent have been taken by Ain Shams University in Egypt, in the global bracket of 721-730 and North-West University of South Africa is in the batch of 801-850, an improvement from that of 1,000-1,200, last year.

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The University of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia has emerged as the best-ranked university in Sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa and has been placed in the bracket of 852-900. Other universities, in the order of merit that have been included in the top 1,000, are the University of South Africa, or UNISA (851-900), Alexandria University (901-950) in Egypt and Rhodes University (901-950) in South Africa.

Others in the 951-1,000 cohort are Uganda’s Makerere University, the University of Tunis El Manar, Tunisia, the University of Ghana and South Africa’s University of the Western Cape.

More universities in Africa in top 1,000

According to datasets from QS Quacquarelli Symonds, this year, there are 18 African universities in the top 1,000 universities as compared to 11 last year.

Further, eight universities are in the band of 1,000-1,200 and comprised a contingent of Egyptian universities, namely, Assiut, Future and Mansoura universities as well as the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport. Also in this band are Kenya’s University of Nairobi, South Africa’s University of the Free State, as well as two Tunisian universities, Sfax and Sousse.

However, the second-largest African cohort in those rankings include 11 universities that are in the band of 1,201-1,400. Those comprised seven Egyptian universities, namely, Al-Azhar, British, Helwan, Suez Canal, Tanta, Zagazig and German University in Cairo.

Also in that category are Kenya’s Kenyatta University, the University of Tunis in Tunisia, the University of Khartoum in Sudan and Morocco’s Mohammed V University in Rabat.

The African list concluded with four universities that are in the category of 1,401+ and these are two Nigerian universities – Ibadan and Lagos with others in that group being Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, or KNUST in Ghana, and Sudan’s University of Science and Technology that is located in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

Several newcomers

It appears that the number of African universities in the QS rankings are on the rise as, last year, there were 32 universities, compared to the current 41. Some of the African universities that have been ranked this year but were not represented last year include Kenyatta, Ibadan, Lagos, KNUST, Free State, Sfax, UNISA and Arab Academy of Science, Technology and Maritime Transport.

According to information provided by QS, ranked universities have been assessed on nine performance indicators.

These included academic reputation; employer reputation; faculty-student ratio; and citations per faculty. Others are international faculty ratio; international student ratio; international research network; employment outcomes; and sustainability.

“Sustainability, employability, and international research collaboration are the dimensions that are either reinforced or introduced for the first time,” said QS in a statement.

The criteria for inclusion and participation into the QS World University Rankings are based on a university’s capacity to provide evidence of the comprehensiveness of its degree programmes.

In the current edition, 1,502 universities have been ranked and on a global outlook, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for the 12th consecutive year, has been placed in the number one spot, followed by the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford.

Other universities in the top 10 globally, in order of merit, are Harvard University, Stanford University, Imperial College London, ETH Zurich-Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, National University of Singapore, University College London and the University of California, Berkeley

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