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Discover South Africa’s top 5 Universities 2024: UCT leads

Want to study in South Africa but can't decide where? Explore the top universities in South Africa according to the QS World University Rankings 2024, which ranks the University of Cape Town as the country's best, followed by Stellenbosch University and Wits at second and third place respectively.

For the third year running, the University of Cape Town (UCT) races ahead of the University of Witwatersrand (also known as Wits) to become South Africa’s top university, according to the 2024 QS World University Rankings.

Flagging employability as the most important feature to the overall study (achieved by increasing the weight of Employer Reputation Employment Outcomes in the overall score), UCT was a clear top runner among South African universities. The Johannesburg-based institution fell within the top 200 universities in the world, sitting comfortably at 173rd spot – out of 1,500 global institutions – with 48.7 overall points. The institution climbed 64 places since the 2023 ranking.

Next up is Wits University at second place with 37.9 points; climbing from 428th spot in 2023 to 264 in 2024. Stellenbosch University follows suit in third place on 283rd spot with 36.5 points, having jumped from 454th to 283rd spot.

Coming on fourth place is the University of Johannesburg at 306th spot with 34 points, followed on fifth position by the University of Pretoria at 323rd spot with 32.8 points.

Global overall top performing universities

To rank the top performing universities globally, the 20th QS World University Rankings featured a total 1,500 institutions across 104 locations. Previously focused on just two specifics – employability and sustainability -the ranking this year also employed introduced another equally metric; the International Research Network.

Furthermore, the world results considered the analysis of 17.5m academic papers and the expert opinions of over 240,000 academic faculty and employers.

From this, Massachusetts Institute of Technology was named 2024 best performing university globally for the 12th year running with 100 points. The University of Cambridge retains second place with 99.2 points, while the University of Oxford came third with 98.9 points.

Editor's Desk
Editor's Desk
Curated by editor-in-chief, Tankiso Komane, this special collection of articles from the Editor's Desk unpacks topics of the day, including commentary, in-depth analysis and partner content.
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