In the 2020 Times Higher Education World Rankings by subject released on 6 November, Stellenbosch University (SU) did particularly well in Education, Business & Economics, and Social Sciences. The institution's rankings in these subjects were as follows:
- Education (measuring performance in education, teacher training and academic studies in education subjects) – ranked 176-200 out of 477 universities
- Social Sciences (measuring performance in communication and media studies, politics and international studies, sociology and geography subjects) – ranked 301-400 out of 720 universities
- Business & Economics (measuring performance in accounting and finance, business and management, and economics and econometrics subjects) – ranked 401-500 out of 632 universities
Moreover, the Informatics Institute published its Universal Rankings by Academic Performance (URAP) for subjects in the same week. The ranking lists the world's top 1 000 universities across 61 fields of study. It lists 23 subjects at SU as among the best in the world: History, Zoology, Philosophy, Food Engineering, Agriculture, Biological Sciences, Language, Communication & Culture, Psychology, Education, Economics, Studies in Human Society, Medical & Health Sciences, Psychology & Cognitive Sciences, Geology, Earth Sciences, Molecular Biology & Genetics, Pharmacology, Engineering, Mathematical Sciences, Technology, Information & Computing Sciences, Chemical Sciences, and Physical Sciences.
“These results demonstrate the global impact of SU's research, and the worldwide recognition afforded to our stellar researchers," SU Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Strategy and Internationalisation Prof Hester Klopper said.
In Times Higher Education's world university rankings released in Zurich on 11 September, SU improved its position from the 301–350 bracket in 2019 to 251–300 for 2020. This places SU in the top 1% of universities globally.
Compared to last year, SU has performed better on the indicators of teaching, research, citations and international outlook. The most significant improvement was in the University's citation score, which is up 13% over the previous period. This is the third consecutive year that SU improves on this indicator.