Study In South Africa: The best universities for maths and science in South Africa



Study In South Africa: The best universities for maths and science in South Africa

According to the World Economic Forum, South Africa has the worst maths and science skills in the world – but that hasn’t stopped individuals from excelling in the field, nor South African institutions from shining through.

The CWTS Leiden Ranking for 2016 shows which institutions had the best scientific performance out of over 800 major universities worldwide – with five South African universities making the cut.

The ranking is based exclusively on bibliographic data from the Web of Science database produced by Thomson Reuters, across a number of science indices, including maths, science, social science and arts and humanities.

The overall ranking works by not only looking at the amount of published work, but also how often a university’s work is cited in relation to other published work on the same or similar subject.

Leiden enriches the data through its own citation matching processes and assigning research to universities in the most consistent and accurate way possible.

“Universities may be referred to using many different name variants, and the definition and delimitation of universities is not obvious at all,” it said.

Notably, the ranking does not take into account conference proceedings publications and book publications.

Overall, four of the five ranked SA institutes are within the top 500, with the University of Pretoria narrowly missing out, at 512th.

As with all (except one) university rankings in the country, the University of Cape Town is once again ranked as the best university in South Africa, ranked 378th overall.

378University of Cape Town2681
447University of KwaZulu Natal2293
468Stellenbosch University2189
472University of the Witwatersrand2184
512University of Pretoria1947

However, when looking at the different fields of science, it becomes clear that each of the top science universities in the country have their own forte.

UCT excels at the biomedical and social sciences, but the University of KwaZulu Natal (2nd in SA and 447th overall) ranks top for physical science and engineering.

In terms of mathematics and computers, the University of Pretoria is ranked as the best university in the country.

The following tables show the best universities based on the field of science, as well as the top and bottom score range on the global scale.

Biomedical sciences


1University of Cape Town1160
2University of the Witwatersrand840
3Stellenbosch University726
4University of KwaZulu Natal601
5University of Pretoria497

Life and earth sciences


1Stellenbosch University721
2University of Pretoria689
3University of KwaZulu Natal684
4University of Cape Town598
5University of the Witwatersrand362

Mathematics and computer sciences


1University of Pretoria200
2University of the Witwatersrand150
3Stellenbosch University138
4University of KwaZulu Natal125
5University of Cape Town100

Physical science and engineering


1University of KwaZulu Natal710
2University of the Witwatersrand565
3University of Cape Town464
4Stellenbosch University433
5University of Pretoria337

Social Sciences and humanities


1University of Cape Town358
2University of the Witwatersrand268
3University of Pretoria224
4University of KwaZulu Natal173
5Stellenbosch University172



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