[Top Rank] 10 Best Universities in South Africa

South Africa is home to some of the best universities in the world. The University of Cape Town, for example, ranks among the top 100 universities in the world. Other notable universities include Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University, and the University of Witwatersrand.

South Africa’s quality universities are well-known for their world-class research facilities. They also offer both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees to students from around the world.

If you’re looking at studying in South Africa, consider these top 10 universities in South Africa review. However, the choice of South Africa as a study destination is one of the best choices a student will ever make.

About South Africa

It’s impossible to mention South Africa without acknowledging the role apartheid has played in shaping the cultural and political landscape of today. However, through the hard work and persistence of international icons, such as Nelson Mandela, South Africa has come together to become the “Rainbow Nation” it is today.

International students will be amazed at the ways in which cultural diversity has combined to create a new national narrative as they traverse any one of South Africa’s many popular student destinations.

Today, South Africa is a parliamentary republic with three capitals, Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town, each with its own political responsibility. Additionally, South Africa lays claim to being Africa’s second-largest economy, making it an attractive location for international business and trade.

This ranking is purely based on Web metrics (Not Academic) which uses certain parameters including online presence and authority, availability of research online to rank the best universities in Africa and across the world. It is normal for some academically sound universities to lag behind using this parameter however, the aim is to facilitate the web presence, research, and publishing of universities overall.

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Top 10 best universities in South Africa 2024

Here’s the list of top 10 best universities in South Africa 2024 based on their web metrics in Descending Order.

10. University of South Africa

The University of South Africa (UNISA) is the largest university in Africa attracting one-third of all higher education students in entire South Africa with a student headcount of over 300,000 students, including African and international students in 130 countries worldwide, making it one of the world’s mega universities.

Africa’s leading distance learning institution nurturing inspiring leaders of tomorrow. UNISA is a reputable, comprehensive, flexible and accessible open distance learning institution that is motivating a future generation and offers internationally accredited qualifications with world-class resources.

9. North-West University (NWU) 

North-west University is a multi-campus university that covers two major South African provinces. The North-West University was established on the 1st of January 2004 after the merger of Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education and the University of the North-West which are two universities with very different historical background and cultures. NWU is among the most diverse, best-managed and most innovative universities in South Africa.

The North-West University offers students an exceptionally rich range of study choices at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels which span the spectrum of academic disciplines, from agriculture and the arts through to commerce, engineering, education, health, law, the natural sciences, and theology.

8. University of the Western Cape

Located in the Bellville suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. The University of the Western Cape was established in 1960 by the South African government as a university for Coloured people only. Among academic higher institutions, it has been in the vanguard of South Africa’s historic change, playing a distinctive academic role in helping to build an equitable and dynamic nation.

University of the Western Cape’s key concerns with access, equity and quality in higher education arise from extensive practical engagement in helping the historically marginalized participate fully in the life of the nation.

7. Rhodes University

Rhodes University is a 104-year old South African institution with a well-established reputation for academic excellence. Located in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, Rhodes is a small university which enjoys the distinction of having among the best undergraduate pass and graduation rates in South Africa, outstanding postgraduate success rates, and the best research output per academic staff member.

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This is a testimony to the quality of students that Rhodes attracts and of academic provision, and to the commitment of Rhodes staff to student development and success.

6. University of KwaZulu Natal

The University of KwaZulu Natal University ranks number 686 in the world and is one of the top universities in South Africa.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal was formed on 1 January 2004 as a result of the merger between the University of Durban-Westville and the University of Natal. The new university brings together the rich histories of both the former Universities.

The two KwaZulu-Natal universities were among the first batch of South African institutions to merge in 2004 in accordance with the government’s higher educational restructuring plans that will eventually see the number of higher educational institutions in South Africa reduced from 36 to 21.

5. University of Johannesburg

The University of Johannesburg is surely one of the best universities in Africa. The University of Johannesburg (UJ), one of the largest, multi-campus, residential universities in South Africa and seeks to achieve the highest distinction in scholarship and research within the higher education context.

The university provides the ideal ground for interdisciplinary research and the university has more than 90 rated researchers.

The University fosters ideas that are rooted in African epistemology, but also addresses the needs of South African society and the African continent as it is committed to contributing to sustainable growth and development.

4. Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University is the number 1 university in South Africa and occupies the 400th position in the world in academic excellence, research, innovation, and study environment. It takes pride in the fact that it has one of the country’s highest proportions of postgraduate students of which almost ten percent are international students.

The University lies in the picturesque Jonkershoek Valley in the heart of the Western Cape Winelands. The earliest roots of the University can be traced back to the 17th century when a beginning was made with regular school instruction.

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3. University of Pretoria

The University of Pretoria started its activities in 1908 with a staff of only four professors and three lecturers. Thirty-two students enrolled for courses at the first campus, Kya Rosa, a house in the center of the Pretoria.

The University of Pretoria became a fully-fledged university in 1930. The name Tuks, for the University of Pretoria, derives from the acronym for the College, namely TUC and the Pretoria branch of the Transvaal University College (TUC) was the forerunner of the University of Pretoria.

The institution has proven its worth over the years by maintaining a high standard and world-class talents.

2. University of the Witwatersrand

The University of the Witwatersrand has a reputation built on research and academic excellence.

Wits are one of only two universities in Africa ranked in two separate international rankings as a leading institution in the world and is the only university in the country that features in the top 1% in the world in seven defined fields of research according to the 2007 ISI international rankings.

The University of Witwatersrand is located in Johannesburg, a world-class city, with countless opportunities for students and staff to engage with and present solutions.

The University of the Witwatersrand is one of Africa’s premier research universities that strive to be innovative, where boundaries of knowledge are pushed and where the focus is on sustaining globally competitive standards of excellence in learning, teaching, and research.

MIB Enrolment Award at Monash South Africa 2022

1. University of Cape Town

The University of Cape Town is ranked number 456 among the best universities in the world. UCT was founded in 1829 and has a proud tradition of academic excellence and effecting social change and development through its pioneering scholarship, faculty, and students.

It is also renowned for its striking beauty, with its campus located at the foot of Table Mountain’s Devil’s Peak, with panoramic views of much of Cape Town.

UCT aspires to become a premier academic meeting point between South Africa, the rest of Africa and the world.

Taking advantage of expanding global networks and a distinct vantage point in Africa, University of Cape Town is committed, through innovative research and scholarship, to grapple with the key issues of our natural and social worlds.


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