Stellenbosch University (SU) can count itself among the leading higher education institutions globally in the broad subject areas of Life Science and Medicine, Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences and Management, Engineering & Technology, and Natural Sciences. This is according to the 2023 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings by Subject released on Wednesday (22 March 2023).
For the 2023 edition, 1 597 institutions were ranked across 54 subjects in the abovementioned five broad subject areas. More than 16,4 million unique papers published between 2016-2020, producing close to 117,8 million citations in 2016–2021, were analysed.
SU improved its standing in four of these subject areas. It achieved a top 250 spot in Life Science and Medicine and is now ranked in the top 350 in Arts and Humanities, top 450 in Engineering & Technology, top 400 in Social Sciences and Management, and top 500 in Natural Sciences.
Leading in SA
As far as specific subject categories are concerned, SU improved its global position in Environmental Sciences and Medicine having moved into the top 250. It is the leading university in South Africa in Agriculture & Forestry (74th in the world) and Theology, Divinity & Religious Studies, and Development Studies (both in the top 100), Chemical Engineering (top 300) and Mechanical, Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering (top 350). For a second year in a row, SU is ranked number one in South Africa in Agriculture & Forestry and Theology, Divinity & Religious Studies, and second in Education (top 350), Pharmacy & Pharmacology (top 300), Business & Management Studies (top 500), Psychology (top 330), Biological Sciences (top
350), and Electrical and Electronic Engineering (top 450). SU also moved into second position in English
Language & Literature (top 250) after having finished third in 2022. In Accounting & Finance, SU is among the top 330 institutions globally.
“In line with our vision to be Africa's leading research-intensive university, we also want to discern ourselves in higher education globally, so we are pleased that our reputation in Agriculture & Forestry and Theology, Divinity & Religious Studies has been ranked number one. As the only university in South Africa that offers viticulture and oenology due to our unique wine region, we are especially proud that Agriculture received such recognition," says Prof Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs.
The QS subject tables use academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per paper, H-index and International Research Network (IRN) as indicators to rank universities. The first two of these are based on global surveys of academics and employers that are used to assess an institution's international reputation in each subject. Research citations per paper measures the average number of citations obtained per publication, and is an estimate of the impact and quality of the scientific work done by universities. The H-index assesses the stability of impact and quality of the work published by an institution's academics. The IRN is a measure of a university's efficiency in establishing stable research collaborations in each of the five broad subject areas.
Over the last few years, SU has been consistently ranked among the best tertiary institutions globally on the QS World University Rankings by Subject, the Times Higher Education World University Subject Rankings, and the ShanghaiRanking's Global Ranking of Academic Subjects. These rankings all use different methodologies and indicators to determine universities' position on their ranking.