Aug 22, 2008
SA universities spend big on research and developmentBack
Engineering|Africa|Education|UCT|Africa|University Of Cape Town
© Reuse this
Of this, 16,4% was devoted to basic (or pure) science, 3,9% to information and communication technology, 1,7% to applied science, 12,1% to engineering sciences, 17,4% to the medical sciences, 13,5% to the life sciences, and 35% to the social sciences.
The country’s universities are clearly important assets. In total, South Africa has 23 institutions designated as universities, divided into 11 traditional universities, 6 comprehensive universities, and 6 universities of technology. Traditional universities are just that: full-spectrum universities with faculties of science, engineering, law, arts/humanities, and so on, engaging in pure, as well as applied, research, and teaching.
The comprehensive universities were created by the merger of some universities with technikons, and offer some traditional university programmes as well as career-orientated programmes of the type found in the former technikons. The universities of technology are basically renamed technikons (which were themselves originally designated technical colleges).
The traditional universities are North West University, Rhodes University, the University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of Fort Hare, the University of the Free State, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKN), the University of Limpopo, the University of Pretoria (UP), the Universitty of Stellenbosch, the University of the Western Cape, and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).
The comprehensive universities are the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the University of Johannesburg, the University of South Africa (Unisa – a distance learning institution), the University of Venda for Science and Technology, the University of Zululand, and the Walter Sisulu University for Technology and Science.
The universities of technology comprise the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the Central University of Technology, the Durban University of Technology, the Mangosuthu Technikon, the Tshwane University of Technology, and the Vaal University of Technology.
But how do South African universities rate internationally? Global university ranking lists do exist. Two of the best known are the Times Higher Education Supplement QS World University Rankings, and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). These list what they regard as the 500 best universities in the world.
The ARWU 2007 rated UCT as South Africa’s top university, placing it in the group of universities ranked from 203 to 304, but not giving it an individual ranking. UCT was also rated as Africa’s top university. Wits came second, in South Africa and Africa, ranked between 305 and 402.
Third equal, in both South Africa and Africa, were UKN and UP, both rated between 403 and 510 in the world – Cairo University, in Egypt, also ranked third equal in Africa and in the same global group. These five universities were the only African universities to make the top 500 list. (In the 2006 ARWU rankings, UCT came in at 252, Wits at 396, UKN at 470, and UP at 481.)
The QS World University Rankings 2007 also placed UCT as South Africa’s top university, ranked 200, with Wits again in second place, at 282. UKN and UP were both placed in the group ranked between 401 and 500, without being assigned individual ratings.
The exact ratings differ, but both lists agree that UCT comes first and Wits second, and they are followed by UKN and UP. And the really fundamental point is that South Africa has four world-class universities. Not surprising, all are traditional universities, of which the country only has 11. So 36% of South African traditional universities are world class.
For comparison, universities ranked near UCT on the QS list include the University of Leicester (UK) at 185, the University of Surrey (UK) at 190, the University of Barcelona (Spain) at 194, Kobe University (Japan) at 197, the University of Miami (US) at 202, Brandeis University (US) at 208, and Hamburg University (Germany) at 216.
Universities clustered around Wits include the University of Essex (UK) at 272, Iowa State University (US) at 276, Washington State University (US) at 286, and the University of South Australia at 291.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
Other News This Week News
Recent Research Reports
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
Road and Rail 2015: A review of South Africa's road and rail sectors (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2015 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail infrastructure and network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and...
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book comprises separate reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
This Week's Magazine
Engen Driver Wellness, the mobile health awareness initiative, continues to make a tangible difference to the lives of the country’s bulk truck operators with increased driver participation in voluntary screenings and improved health scores. Now in its fifth year,...
At the sixth IQ Business conference held in Sandton last month, a panel of business leaders and academics advocated that business reclaims the initiative to spur growth in South Africa amid fragmented and haphazard political direction. Management consulting firm IQ...
The building industry is an essential component of the South African economy as it contributes about 15% to the gross fixed investment that drives the economy. However, with the country’s economy going through a tough time currently, this, in turn, reflects on the...
The recipients of the 2015 South African National Energy Association (Sanea)/South African National Energy Development Institute Energy (Sanedi) Awards were announced at a ceremony and banquet in Sandton last month. Sanea chairperson Brian Statham named Exxaro CEO...
As South African information technology (IT) firm EOH posted another full year of strong growth, CEO Asher Bohbot, known for his frank words, people-centric management style and stoic humanism, attributed the company’s continued South African and African growth to...