Three South African universities have made it onto the score sheets of the inaugural subjects ranking of the Center for World University Rankings, or CWUR, published earlier this month.
The subject rankings feature the top universities in the world in 227 subjects covering all academic disciplines in the sciences and social sciences based on the number of research articles in top-tier journals.
Data for calculations includes journal citations from the Science Citation Index Expanded and the Social Sciences Citation Index databases. The rankings cover over 26,000 higher education institutions from around the world.
The South African universities include the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Cape Town and the University of Pretoria.
Ornithology and area studies
The University of Cape Town came third in the top-10 for ornithology – the scientific study of birds – and fourth in area studies – an interdisciplinary field covering programmes such as history, political science, sociology, cultural studies, languages, geography and literature.
The CWUR is the world’s largest academic ranking of global universities and is headquartered in the United Arab Emirates.
University of Cape Town, or UCT, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said in a statement that while the university was proud that its scholarship in those fields had been internationally recognised, the ranking had the effect of boosting the academic reputation of South Africa.
“UCT is very proud indeed that our scholarship in these fields has been internationally recognised. Having universities that rank globally (including other South African universities) benefits the country as a whole. It sends a message that the country’s higher education system is globally competitive,” said Phakeng.
Strong African voice
“The high ranking in these two fields demonstrates that African researchers can take the lead in helping to solve African problems, and also that they are bringing a strong African voice to global debates,” Phakeng said.
The University of Pretoria was ranked second in the top-10 institutions offering mycology, which is the study of fungi.
The University of the Witwatersrand was ranked fifth in anthropology and second in area studies.
According to CWUR President Dr Nadim Mahassen, the subject rankings are intended to help students, academics, university administrators and government officials from around the world “identify the leading degree-granting institutions of higher education in a particular subject”.
Mahassen said African universities should invest more in research if they aspire to be more competitive globally.
A total of 36 countries are represented in the rankings and 365 out of more than 25,000 degree-granting institutions achieved at least one top-10 listing, led by Harvard University with 112 top-10 placements, including 72 first places.
Universities from the United States, China, United Kingdom and Canada topped the subjects ranking with the US accounting for 45% of the top-10 institutions, followed by China with 13%, the United Kingdom with 10%, Canada with 5% and the Netherlands with 4%. Australia had 3%, Japan 2%, Singapore 2%, France 2% and Germany 1%.
Receive UWN's free weekly e-newsletters