South Africa leads first ‘snapshot’ university ranking

South Africa dominates an initial, ‘snapshot’ ranking of African universities, produced by Times Higher Education, or THE, and based only on research influence. A future Africa league table will be drawn from THE’s global rankings but will use “bespoke metrics” to be thrashed out at a continental summit being held in Johannesburg at the end of this month.

Last week THE released what it called “a snapshot of what the first ever ranking devoted to African universities might look like”.

“This is an experimental and preliminary ranking based solely on research, and only on one aspect of research – how many times research papers are cited by other academics,” said Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

“When we develop a full Africa University Ranking, we expect to add many more indicators, examining things like a university’s economic contribution, its civic engagement and of course its teaching.”

The ranking

In a statement released on Thursday, THE said that although its ‘snapshot’ table was based on just one of the five criteria used in its World University Rankings, it “gives a good indication of what a full university ranking might look like”.

Citation data were derived from information provider and publisher Elsevier’s Scopus database. To be considered, a university had to have published at least 500 papers between 2009 and 2013, with at least 50 papers per year. Articles, reviews and conference papers were considered.

There are eight South African universities in the top 15, two from Morocco and one each from Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.

The ranking is topped by the University of Cape Town followed by the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, Makerere University in Uganda, the South African universities of Stellenbosch and KwaZulu-Natal, and Nigeria’s University of Port Harcourt in sixth place.

Next come South Africa’s University of the Western Cape (7), Kenya’s University of Nairobi (8), the University of Johannesburg (9), Morocco’s Université Cadi Ayyad (10), the University of Pretoria (11), the University of Ghana (12), the University of South Africa (13), Egypt’s Suez Canal University (14) and Morocco’s Université Hassan II (15).

The summit

The British ranking group said that a “full table” listing Africa’s top 30 universities would be unveiled at the inaugural Times Higher Education Africa Universities Summit, to be held from 30-31 July at the University of Johannesburg.

Higher education leaders and opinion formers would discuss plans for a comprehensive ranking for Africa, and would help to shape “bespoke metrics designed to meet the region’s specific challenges”.

Among its speakers are six vice-chancellors – South Africa’s Ihron Rensburg of the University of Johannesburg, Cheryl de la Rey of the University of Pretoria and Albert van Jaarsveld of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, as well as Mabel Imbuga of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya, Rwekaza Mukandala of the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and Admasu Tsegaye of Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.

The summit is being held in partnership with the University of Johannesburg and will also include a rankings ‘masterclass’.