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University of Cape Town Breaks Into Top 10 in the QS University Rankings: BRICS 2014

London, 18th of June 2014 - QS University Rankings: BRICS, which compares the Top 200 institutions in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, reveals that the Sub-Saharan nation is a force to reckoned with, in higher education, in the Africa continent.  However, only 11 of the 200 institutions surveyed in the new ranking are from South Africa, and they account for almost half of the country’s universities.

The acronym BRICS has become standard shorthand for the idea that the world’s economic future is not in the hands of traditional players such as the US, Europe and Japan.  Yet, to compete with the existing developed world, these fast growing economies need world-class university systems.  This years’ QS University Rankings: BRICS, identifies China as the BRICS nation that is closer to that goal.

China claims six of the top 10 places, ahead of Brazil (2), Russia (1) and South Africa (1).  Russia with 53 institutions in the top 200 is second only to China (71). Yet only seven Russian institutions make the top 50, fewer China (21), Brazil (10), and India (9).

The good news is that the University of Cape Town (UCT) has moved into the BRICS top ten, thanks to its high ratio of citations per academic paper that was superior to any of the universities represented in this year’s rankings, in this indicator, among the five countries.  

“UCT also scored well on number of international students and faculty, and in the academic reputation indicator”, noted QS head of research, Ben Sowter.

The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has overtaken Stellenbosch University, which is South Africa’s other representative in the top 40 of the new BRICS ranking.

The relatively low proportion of academics holding PhDs is another factor that holds South African universities back in this ranking. None of the country’s universities reaches the top 100 on this measure. Several South African universities score well on the measures of international activity:  Wits is in the top five for its proportion of international faculty, while UCT is in the top ten for both international faculty and students.

“At a time when government spending is stalling in much of the West, the BRICS nations have set their sights on developing world-class universities sooner rather than later,” Sowter states.



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