University Competitiveness

Education in Perspective Whilst Spring cleaning, I came across a print out of University ratings from 2008. Curious to see how South African universities are ranked 6 years later in 2016, my findings are detailed below.

Columns A and B Columns A and B indicate a comparison from 2008 to 2016 of the Global standing of 19 South African Universities as found on the website : The Webometrics Ranking is produced by the Cybermetrics Lab, a unit of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the main public research body in Spain. The Lab acts as an Observatory of the Science and Technology on the Web.

Columns C and D Columns C and D indicate a comparison from 2008 to 2016 of the ratings within the African continent of 19 South African Universities as found on the website : The Webometrics University Ranking is a ranking system based on university web presence, visibility and web access. This ranking system measures how strongly a university is present in the web by its own web domain, sub-pages, rich files, scholarly articles, etc. The central hypothesis of this approach is that web presence is a reliable indicator of the global performance and prestige of the universities and as such, is an indirect way to measure all the university missions (teaching, research, transfer). Although the Web is universally recognized as one of the most relevant tools for scholarly communication, it is still very rare these indicators are used for the evaluation of the scientific research and the academic performance of universities. Webometric indicators are provided to show the commitment of the institutions to Web publication. More information can be found at

Column E Another URL to explore for university rating by QS is . Unfortunately, the 2008, or any of their past university ratings are not freely available in order to compare. QS uses six rating criteria which are explained on their website. Summarised, the criteria are: 1. Academic reputation (40%) 2. Employer reputation (10%) 3. Student-to-faculty ratio (20%) 4. Citations per faculty (20%) 5. International faculty ratio (5%) 6. International student ratio (5%)

Tracking Changes According to the Webometrics rankings, over a 6-year period, only Rhodes University and Monash University have dropped in World rating when comparing columns A and B, while all other 17 universities in the sample group have moved up in the ranks. When comparing the data within Africa, 9 universities have dropped ranking and 10 universities have improved their ranking in Africa. The Webometrics and QS rating methodology is very different and so are their results. Noteworthy is that University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University hold the first 2 places in all 3 lists i.e. Webometrics 2008 and 2016 as well as the QS list of 2016.

For Students People, money and things come and go during one’s life journey and even university ranking will fluctuate. Education can never be taken away. When lifelong learning is added to an accredited qualification, the value and relevancy of a formal education increases. Universities are chosen for their location, course offerings, price range, overall reputation and faculty reputation. Sometimes the final decision of where to study rests with where one is accepted or where one can secure a bursary. No matter where one studies, education is an investment. There is a South African Proverb that states “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Larna Anderson, Artist, Innovator & Change Leader

Managing Director at The Art of Learning (Pty) Ltd

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