University management believes the sample was too small for the ranking to be reflective of the feelings that students and alumni have of Wits. 

Wits University was placed seventh in StuDocu’s world ranking for South African universities, according to current and past students’ perception of South African higher learning institutions.

The University of Pretoria (UP) took the top spot in the survey, which looked at factors such as the quality and range of food options available, safety of students, accessibility and location of the institutions and even the social and dating life of students.

Rikus Delport, director of UP’s department of institutional advancement, said the fact that students rate the university so highly is exciting. “We are especially pleased as it appears that the university was highly rated by students in terms of their online teaching and learning experience,” he said.

Jerome September, dean of student affairs at Wits, said the university had not known about the rankings before. “The university was not asked to participate in any such ranking and is not aware of any of its students participating either, although their website says that 60 students or past students were surveyed per institution.”

September said since such a small portion of students was included in StuDocu’s survey, it is not completely reflective of the feelings students and alumni have about Wits. He said this ranking should not be confused with major global ones that usually focus on academic and research performance.

“We are confident that the internal processes we have, give us a better sense of the student experience and perception as they are also linked to efforts to help us improve,” September said.

Mongameli Shozi, a UP alumnus working to attain a postgraduate diploma in business administration, said he understands why UP is placed so high in the rankings. He has found the institution accessible and fair.

“Really, the challenges lie with trying to balance having fun but still striving to do well academically. I think based on that it was very balanced. However, first year was a lot more fun and third year was more academic-focused,” Shozi said.

Zainab Gafoor, a Wits English honours student who participated in the StuDocu rankings, said Wits’s place was somewhat surprising. She said the university does well academically, and within her faculty there is enough support. The work load does not, however, allow for a healthy work/life balance. She also said there is not enough variety in Halaal food, but she was happy with it before.

“There is not much of a school/life balance. Before covid, maybe, but now it has taken over my life,” Gafoor said. “In general, however, I really like Wits. It was one of my minor dreams to come here. I think the academic support is really good, but I do know that’s not the experience of other students.”

The ranking is a result of a survey shared via email, to students who use StuDocu between July and August, 2021. Only 2 000 out of nearly 10 000 South African students on the platform participated.

This is the second time the company has released its annual rankings, and the first time South Africa is included. Martine Peeters, the company’s marketing and communications manager, said South Africa was StuDocu’s fastest-growing country on the site. “Because of this growth we were able to collect enough responses to include the universities in the ranking,” she said.

FEATURED IMAGE: Students passing time on the Wits East Campus near the Oppenheimer Life Science building. Photo: Rebecca Kgabo