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SU improves on four indicators for Times Higher Education ranking
Author: Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]
Published: 28/09/2023

​​Stellenbosch University (SU) has improved on four of the five indicators used to compile the 2024 Times Higher Education (THE) World Universities Ranking (WUR) that was released on Wednesday (27 September 2023).

In the 2024 version, which is also the 20th edition of THE WUR, SU occupies the second position in South Africa for the third year in a row. A record number of 1 904 institutions featured in the 2024 rankings. In 2023, 1 799 universities were ranked.

The THE World University Ranking is the leading global performance table that judge research-focused universities across their core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

Although the performance indicators have changed from last year, they are still grouped into five areas: Teaching (the learning environment); Research environment (volume, income, and reputation); Research quality (citation impact, research strength, research excellence and research influence); International outlook (staff, students and research); and Industry (income and patents).

Besides the increase in its overall score, SU improved its position on the indicators for Industry income, International outlook, Research and Teaching. The most significant improvement was in the industry income score with an increase of 26,5%. With this increase, the industry income score improved from the previous (2023) score of 71 to the 2024 score of 89,9 — the highest of all South African universities. SU is also ranked 168 globally in this category. The University's international outlook score improved from 54 to 59,9 and the research score from 36,9 to 39,6, while its teaching score improved from 30,5 to 33,8.

According to THE WUR, the industry income indicator looks at a university's ability to support the industry with innovations, inventions and consultancy. This metric seeks to capture an institution's knowledge-transfer activity by looking at how much research income it earns from industry, scaled against the number of academic staff it employs. It also suggests the extent to which businesses are willing to pay for research and a university's ability to attract funding in the commercial marketplace — useful indicators of institutional quality.

The international outlook indicator measures a university's ability to attract undergraduates, postgraduates and faculty from all over the globe. The research quality pillar looks at universities' role in spreading new knowledge and ideas, whereas the teaching indicator gives a sense of how committed an institution is to nurturing the next generation of academics.

“Stellenbosch University's improvement on four of the five indicators is testimony to the continuous, high-level contribution of our researchers to the global scientific pool of knowledge, but also to the important spheres of industry liaison and internationalisation initiatives, amongst others," says Prof Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs.

“Besides the fact that annually more and more universities are ranked — and influencing a university's standing in the band position of the rankings — it should also be noted that universities on the African continent's social, economic, and political contexts differ vastly from that of universities in high-income countries. Therefore, SU's continued presence on established rankings such as THE WUR is a remarkable achievement."

Over the last few years, SU has consistently ranked among the best tertiary institutions in the world on global university rankings such as the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings, the Times Higher Education Emerging Economies University Rankings, the Academic Ranking of World Universities (also known as the Shanghai Rankings), and the Center for World University Rankings.

This year, SU was also among the leading higher education institutions on the QS World University Rankings and QS World University Rankings by Subject and the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy's Academic Ranking of World Universities.