South Africa has the highest ranked universities in Africa. This is measured by the quality of graduates churned from these institutions of higher learning. This writer takes a look at the top 15 ranking universities in Africa.
University of Cape Town (UCT)
The University of Cape Town (UCT) is a non profit public university founded in 1874 and located in the metropolis of Cape Town. It is a large coeducational South African higher education institution which offers courses and programs leading to officially recognized higher education degrees such as pre-Bachelor degrees(certificates, diploma associates or foundation), Bachelor’s degrees, Masters degrees, and Doctorate degrees in several areas of study.
UCT has a selective admission policy based on entrance examinations and students’ past academic records and performance. International applicants are also eligible to apply for enrolments.
University of Pretoria
Founded in 1908, University of Pretoria is located in the suburban metropolis of Pretoria. The University has grown from the original 32 students in a single let Victorian house to approximately 53,000 in 2019. It was built on seven suburban campuses on 1,190 hectares. The University is organized into 9 faculties and a business school. Established in 1920, the University of Pretoria Faculty of Veterinary Science is the second oldest veterinary school in Africa and the only one in South Africa.
In 1949, the university launched the first MBA program outside North America and the University’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) has consistently been ranked the top business school in Africa for executive education and top 50 worldwide.
University of Witwatersrand
Situated in the Northern region of Central Johannesburg, the University is popularly referred to as Wits University or simply Wits. It was founded in 1896 as the South African School of Mines in Kimberly, and is the third oldest South African University.
The 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities ,(ARWU) placed Wits, with its overall score, as the highest ranked university in Africa. It was ranked as the top university in South Africa in the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) rankings and has occupied this ranking position since 2014.
The university is located in Stellenbosch, a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Often abbreviated as SU, this is the oldest University in South Africa together with the University of Cape Town which received full university status on the same day in 1918. It was the first African university to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. It is ranked in the top 100 worldwide in development studies, theology, agriculture and forestry.
Stellenbosch also has triple accreditation (AMBA, EQUIA and AACSB) and is ranked second in Africa by Eduniversal. Its business school is ranked among the top 100 worldwide in executive education by Financial Times.
University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN)
It was formed on 1st January 2004 after the merger between the University of Natal and the University of Durban-Westville and has five campuses in the province of KwaZulu Natal. It is ranked fourth in South Africa by The Times Higher Education World University Rankings and sixth by the QS World University Rankings in 2018.
The American University in Cairo (AUC)
This is a private research university in Egypt which offers American style learning programs at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels, along with a continuing education program.
It was founded in 1919 by American Missionaries in Egypt, a protestant mission sponsored by Presbyterian Church of Northern America, as an English Language and preparatory school. AUC in offers 37 Bachelor’s degree, 44 Masters degrees, and 2 doctoral degrees and engineering in addition to a wide range of graduate diplomas in five schools: Business, Global Affairs and Public Policy, Humanities and Social Sciences, Sciences and Engineering, and the Graduate School of Education. It holds institutional accreditation from the Commission of Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in the United States.
North-West University (NWU)
The North-West University, located on three campuses, became the third largest university in South Africa with the third largest student population in the country. The universities that merged to form the institution are: Potchefstroom University fir Christian Higher Education and the University of North-West (formerly the University of Bophuthatswana).
University of Johannesburg
Located in Johannesburg, South Africa, the university was formed on 1st January 2005 via a merger between Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), the Technikon Witwatersrand (TWR) and East Rand campuses of Vista University. The newly merged institution is one of the largest comprehensive contact universities in South Africa from the 26 public universities that make up the higher education system. It has a student population of over 50,000, out of which 3,000 are international students from over 80 countries.
University of Nairobi (UoN)
The University of Nairobi is located in Nairobi, Kenya with a history that dates back to 1956. It became an independent university after the University of East Africa was split into three independent universities: Makerere University in Uganda, University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and University of Nairobi in Kenya. Since 1970, the university has grown from a faculty based university serving a student population of 2,768 to a college focused university serving over 68,000 students.
In 2020, Times Higher Education ranked the university within the 801 – 1000 brand globally.
It is Egypt’s premier university founded on 31st December 1908 with its main campus located in Giza. The university currently enrols approximately 155,000 students in 20 faculties and three institutions. It counts three Nobel Laureates among its graduates and is one of the 50 largest institutions of higher education in the world by enrolment.
In the ARWU 2020 ranking, it was ranked first in Egypt and rated 401-500 worldwide.
In QS ranking 2021, it was ranked the second in Egypt and the sixth across Africa.
University of Western Cape
Located in Belleville, a suburb of Cape Town South Africa, it was established in 1960 by the South African government as a University for the colored people only. It started as a bush college, a university college without autonomy and it offers limited training for lower to middle level positions in schools and civil service. In its first year, most of the teaching staff were white.
Today, it is a research-rich environment with highly qualified academic staff. In 2014, webometrics ranked it sixth best in South Africa, 7th best in Africa and 855th in the world.
With over 8,200 students, Rhodes is a small university located in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It was established in 1904 and is the sixth oldest South African University in continuous operation. In 1951, it became an independent university
Addis Ababa University
Located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the university is the oldest school of higher education in the country with over thirteen campuses, 12 of which are spread out across Addis Ababa and one located in Bishoftu. AAU has several associated research institutions including the Institute of Ethiopian Studies. Students are admitted based on their score on the Ethiopian University Entrance Examination (EUEE).
University of Ghana
Located in Accra, Ghana, it is the oldest and largest of the thirteen Ghanaian national public universities. It was founded in 1984, in the British colony of the Gold Coast, and was originally an affiliate college of the University of London. It has a population of over 40,000 registered students.
Founded in 1972, it is located in the middle of the Nile Delta in Egypt. The faculty of medicine was founded in 1962 as a branch of Cairo University. In 1972, a presidential decree announced the establishment of the university under the name East Delta University. It is one of the biggest Egyptian universities and has contributed much to the cultural and scientific life in Mansoura and Egypt.