By Percy Matshoba and Roxanne Joseph
Wits University has been ranked the top university in Africa and among the best in the world by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR).
The CWUR looked at 1000 universities around the world and ranked Wits at 114 overall. University of Cape Town is ranked 267, Stellenbosch 311, the University of KwaZulu-Natal 459 and the University of Pretoria 609.
The criteria include the quality of education, alumni employment, quality of faculty, publications and research papers, influence, citations, broad impact and patents. Wits scored highly in alumni employment (29th) and quality of education (79th).
The CWUR previously compiled a list of the top 100 universities in 2013, and has now extended the ranking to 1000 universities in the world. The group claims to be the only ranking system that includes in its research the quality of education and skills development of students without relying on surveys and university data submissions.
Third-year law student Lerato Maviya said she was not quite convinced by the CWUR ranking system in terms of the quality of education. “I still find flaws in the way we are taught [at Wits],” she said.
BA Law student, Dimpho Bendile said the rankings made her proud to be a Witsie. “It makes me feel like I am in a world class institution.”
Approach ranking systems with caution
Wits Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Habib discounted the rankings and said they should be looked at with caution. Different ranking systems used different criteria for universities.
“We believe that as a university we should not be distracted by such ranking systems,” he said.
Habib said the university’s focus should be to build a “nationally responsive and globally competitive institution, one that is both demographically diverse and cosmopolitan.” He said that if the university focuses on these qualities it will surely build a strong accreditation which will be acknowledged by more “established and relevant ranking systems”.
Proud to be a Witsie
Wits university alumnus Simiso Ndlovu said, in terms of graduate employment, the university had gone out of its way to find employment for graduates. “I got my current job through my honours lecturer,” she said.
Ndlovu said the university’s top ranking gave her a sense of honour and prestige among competing graduates. “I can go anywhere in the world and proudly proclaim that I am a Witsie,” she said.
Director of Alumni Relations Peter Maher said the CWUR ranking was a confirmation of previous reports that had ranked Wits highly. He said Wits has produced high achieving graduates when compared to other universities in Africa.
“The overall ranking is good news for Wits graduates,” Maher said. Harvard was ranked as the best university by the CWUR, scoring the highest in seven of eight categories.
The top 10 universities on the list were shared between the United States, represented by eight universities, and the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
Japanese universities were also heavily represented in the top 20 with the University of Tokyo at 13th and Kyoto University in the 16th spot. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology took the 18th spot and other US institutions completed the list.