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Wits tops global research rankings on the continent

- Wits University

The University has leaped into the top position in Africa in the latest Shanghai rankings.

The latest Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), also known as the Shanghai rankings, was released on 15 August 2016, placing Wits among the top 1% of all universities in the world, and on the threshold of making it into the top 200.

“At Wits our research output has increased substantially in the last few years. Noting though that this achievement is a culmination of work done over many years by our researchers. We are truly appreciative of this recognition, and we are particularly appreciative of our researchers, scientists, students and alumni to whom these accolades really belong,” says Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research at Wits.

Vilakazi commended the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch and KwaZulu-Natal that have also been ranked among the top 500 universities in the world in the prestigious Shanghai rankings, saying it clearly demonstrates the strength of the South African higher education system.

“Our research output as a country is at one of its highest levels to date, and this bears testament to the high quality of research emanating from South Africa,” he adds.

While rankings are one indicator, it does not solely determine the quality of education at universities. Wits is mindful of the fact that different ranking systems use different methodologies, and that their results must therefore be approached with a level of measured circumspection

“For this reason and others, we believe that as a university we should not be driven by ranking systems. Rather, our focus should be on building a nationally responsive and globally competitive institution. This means concentrating on research and teaching, and embedding the institution in the work that is necessary to South Africa, the continent of Africa, and the rest of the globe,” Vilakazi says.


Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU): Starting from 2003, ARWU has been presenting the world Top 500 universities annually based on a set of objective indicators and third-party data. ARWU has been recognized as the precursor of global university rankings and the most trustworthy league table. ARWU adopts six objective indicators to rank world universities, including the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, the number of Highly Cited Researchers, the number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science, the number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index - Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index, and per capita performance. More than 1200 universities are actually ranked by ARWU every year and the best 500 universities are published.

ShanghaiRanking Consultancy: ShanghaiRanking Consultancy is a fully independent organization dedicating to research on higher education intelligence and consultation. It has been the official publisher of the Academic Ranking of World Universities since 2009.