Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Academic Ranking of World Universities 2011

Last month Shanghai Jiao Tong University published the annual rankings of universities around the world. South Africa has three universities in the top 500. They are the University of Cape Town which is ranked between 201 and 300, the University of Witwatersrand which is ranked between 301 and 400 and the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (where I am studying!) which is ranked between 401 and 500.
I'm not sure if Departments of Theology are used at all as an academic indicators, though!
South Africa does not seem to have made it into the top 100 in any particular field.
The top 3 universities in the world : Harvard, Stanford and MIT.

Come on South Africa - we can build on this!

The full list of the top 500 universities.
The list of South African universities in the top 500.


Steve Hayes said...

Most universities have their ups and downs, and some departments are better than others.

This list seems to focus on a fairly narrow field, and though Nobel prizewinners might be a useful criterion, they seem to focus on publication in just two journals, Nature and Science, both of which are published in the USA and therefore may be expected to have a high proportion of graduates of US universities among their editorial staff. And most US university libraries would be most likely to subscribe to US journals and so those would tend to be most cited.

I'm not saying the list is worthless, but rather that it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. It would be interesting, for example, to compare the relative weight of citations in two journals in the same field published in another country, and see how much they differed.

And then there is the problem that academic journals are not only about quality of research, but are just as much money-making rackets.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Steve - it is a narrow field, very much the sciences. My daughters are studying science at UKZN so it interests me. While US universities dominate, there are universities from the UK, Japan, Australia, Switzerland and many more countries in the top 100. I see no reason why South Africa should not be able to compete - even if the odds are stacked against us. Maybe another sort of evaluation would put SA universities at the top of the world (and maybe not) . . . but I reckon we have the potential to take them on even with their rules. Give us a few years - hopefully without a political breakdown - and I think we can do it!

Steve Hayes said...

OK, but I would still be interested to see if you did it by citations in two Russian, or German, or even British journals. I suspect that the results might be very different.

Thomas Scarborough said...

Not sure if individual students IN departments of theology are used as academic indicators ... :-)

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Steve - yes it would be interesting to see.
Thomas :-)
Thanks for the comments!