Wits University excels in recent subject world rankings. 

The inaugural subject rankings have been published by the Centre for World University Rankings (CWUR) and Wits University has made the list of high performers in two subjects. The Johannesburg-based institution placed second in area studies and fifth in anthropology.

The subject rankings cover 227 subjects in the sciences and social sciences across more than 26 000 higher education institutions from across the globe. The rankings are simply based on the number of research articles published in top-tier journals.

While anthropology is a discipline on its own, area studies is defined as an interdisciplinary field that covers disciplines such as history, political science, sociology, cultural studies, languages, literature and geography.

Deputy vice chancellor of research at Wits, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, says that this is a remarkable achievement and something that Wits as an institution can be very proud of. Vilakazi says that rankings such as this “boost graduates’ confidence and employment opportunities when students graduate from a high-ranking university.”

Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Professor Ruksana Osman, said that the success of these disciplines “can be attributed to high quality academics who are committed to advancing knowledge in various areas of studies”.

While Osman cautioned that the rankings are “only one indicator of scholarly excellence”, she also said that rankings such as this points to the fact that Wits academics are recognised on the continent and in the rest of the world.

Two other South African universities, the University of Cape Town and the University of Pretoria, made the top 10 list in various other subject areas.

Vilakazi says this shows the quality of research that is produced in the country. “The rankings can serve to change the perception of universities in South Africa and perceptions of the country as a whole”, he said.

Vilakazi also said that the rankings show that “Africa is not just a backwater continent and that the south can also contribute to critical thinking on a global scale”.


Universities from the United States, China, United Kingdom and Canada topped the subject rankings.