30 August 2011
The South African media have expressed concern over the continuing poor performance of local universities in international university rankings.
The latest edition of the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) published by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy shows only four South African universities in the top five hundred. The University of the Witwatersrand is 238th, the University of Cape Town 306th, the University of Pretoria 416th, rising from the 501-600 band, and Stellenbosch University 436th.
The University of Johannesburg and the University of Kwazulu-Natal have both dropped out of the top 500, and North-West University has fallen from the 601-700 band to the 701-800 band.
The country’s universities also did badly in the Times Higher Education (THE) Emerging Economies Rankings published earlier this year. In those rankings both the University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand fell several places. In this year’s QS World University Rankings, the University of Cape Town fell nine places to 200th.
The online magazine Business Tech links this poor performance with the physical and financial costs of student unrest. Other observers have suggested that problems with funding have played a significant role.