While the Covid-19 pandemic might have caused major disruptions in higher education, it couldn't dent Stellenbosch University's (SU) reputation as one of the best tertiary institutions in the world. This is confirmed by the 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) Emerging Economies Universities Rankings, released on Tuesday (9 March 2021).
SU is ranked number 23 out of 606 institutions from countries or regions classified as “advanced emerging", “secondary emerging" or “frontier" – having improved steadily since 2017 when it came in at number 42. Six of the country's institutions are ranked among the top 100.
Described as the “most competitive THE Emerging Economies Universities Rankings so far" by THE's Chief Knowledge Officer Phil Baty, the 2021 ranking includes a record number of institutions, representing a 14% increase from 2020 (533).
According to THE, universities are ranked according to their core missions of teaching (the learning environment), research (volume, income and reputation), knowledge transfer (industry income) and international outlook (staff, students and research) to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons. In terms of research, SU occupies the 3rd position among South African universities.
According to THE, the 2021 ranking demonstrates that emerging universities are improving faster than those in developed countries or regions around the rest of the world.
Commenting on SU's most recent achievement, Prof Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Strategy and Internationalisation at SU, said the University is steadily improving its positions on various world rankings. “This underscores one of our core strategic themes, namely 'Research for Impact'. The fact that Stellenbosch is able to improve its ranking during the Covid-19 pandemic is no mean feat."
She adds that it is proof of SU's research impact across the globe and the recognition afforded to the calibre and stature of its researchers.
“While we are cognisant of the importance of rankings in the overall perception of an institution's (global) academic and research standing, our focus is on academic and research excellence that will shape a better world for all," she reiterates. “It is, however, hugely gratifying when we gain international recognition in our quest to deliver solutions to societal problems through world-class research and scientific programmes."
In 2020, SU cemented its place among the top universities in the world when it appeared on three major global university rankings, namely the Academic Ranking of World Universities (also known as the Shanghai Rankings), the THE World University Rankings, and the US News & World Report Best Global Universities Ranking.