UCT still No1 in Africa, UP is most improved in global ranking

The University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) are the  two South African universities ranked by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) that have improved their world rankings. University of Pretoria (UP) also received  the Most-Improved Sub-Saharan Africa Award. It was recognised for showing the most improvement in the past five years.

The UCT moved up two spots to number 171 in the QS World University Rankings 2025 released on June 4 during the annual QS EduData Summit held in Washington DC, in the US.

The rankings are published annually, a year ahead, by Quacquarelli Symonds. It is a British company specialising in the analysis of higher education institutions around the world.


Academic reputation, research and employment outcomes

They evaluate higher education institutions based on factors including academic reputation. Also employment outcomes, international research networks, sustainability and citations per faculty.

UKZN is ranked 587, placing it in the top 600 globally. It is an improvement from the 2024 ranking published last year, which placed it in the 621-630 band.

Only 11 of the 26 universities in South Africa were ranked by QS for the 2025 report.

UP’s Most-Improved Sub-Saharan Africa Award was for showing the most improvement in the past five years. It slipped from 323 in the 2024 rankings to 354 in the latest report for 2025. However, UP, according to QS, demonstrated a steady improvement.  In 2022, it was ranked in the 601-650 band.

Meanwhile, South Africa held its spot as Africa’s leader in the higher education sector. UCT was ranked in the top 200 in the world and number 1 in Africa.

SA is home to continent’s best resourced and most sustainable universities

The latest QS rankings show that South Africa, with a total of 11 rated institutions, is home to the continent’s best resourced and most sustainable universities. It has a thriving research network supported by international partnerships.


QS evaluated 5,663 universities in 106 locations, resulting in only 1,503 ranked.

South Africa has UCT in the top 200. Two universities are in the top 300: Wits (267) and Stellenbosch (296). Another two are in the top 400: the University of Johannesburg (312) and UP (354).

UKZN is in the top 600, and North-West University and the University of South Africa are in the 851-900 band. Rhodes University and the University of Western Cape are in the 951-1 000 band. And the University of the Free State is in the 1,000 – 1,200 band.

UP’s interim vice chancellor and principal, Prof. Themba Mosia, lauded the rating. He said the award was a testament to the institution’s commitment to excellence. Also its dedication to positioning itself as a leading, research-intensive university on the continent and globally.

“This recognition not only celebrates our significant progress over the past five years. It also underscores our role as a catalyst for positive change and knowledge creation. This is both locally and beyond our borders,” he said.

UCT beat top five ranked global universities

In terms of scores in the international research network, employment outcomes and sustainability, UCT fared well. It did so against the top two universities in the world. These are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Imperial College of London. This with scores of over 95 out of 100.

UCT, with a score of 95.6 for sustainability, outperformed the top-five ranked universities. These are Oxford (85), Harvard University (84.4), and the University of Cambridge (84.8).

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1 COMMENT

  1. Keep the standard – “The University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) are the two South African universities ranked by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) that have improved their world rankings. University of Pretoria (UP) also received the Most-Improved Sub-Saharan Africa Award. It was recognised for showing the most improvement in the past five years.”

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