Message from the Vice Chancellor

6 October 2011

University of Cape Town Vice Chancellor Max Price

UCT Vice Chancellor Dr. Max Price

Dear colleagues and students:

I am happy to announce that the University of Cape Town has maintained its excellent position in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings (103 for 2011/12, 107 last year). The ranking was released on 6 October 2011.

Our strong performance is the direct result of the productivity and impact of our research, our ability to attract research grants, the quality of our staffing, the international diversity of our staff and students, and the strong perceptions of the quality of our graduates by the international community. These factors are part of UCT’s strategic goals, and I want to thank all the members of our research, teaching and support staff, who work so hard to make progress in these areas.

THE’s methodology relies on 13 indicators within five broad categories: teaching, or the learning environment (worth 30 percent of the final ranking score); research, in terms of volume, income and reputation (30 percent); citations, which indicate research influence (32.5 percent); industry income (2.5 percent); and international mix of staff and students (5 percent).

UCT also performed well in two other global university ranking systems, which released their results earlier this year. The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings for 2011/12, released on 5 September 2011, place UCT at 156 this year, up from 161th place last year. The QS system continues to rank UCT as the only university in Africa in the top 200.

The Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) released its latest results on 15 August 2011. The ARWU ranking for UCT, in the top 300 range, remains unchanged from 2010.

Prospective students and staff around the world use these rankings to decide where to study and work. A good showing on these systems helps to raise confidence not only in the specific university concerned but also in the quality of higher education that is on offer in South Africa. Our reputation also facilitates our many research partnerships with other universities in the country, in other parts of Africa and the rest of the world. These partnerships undoubtedly further contribute to our research effort and reputation.

While we are happy with UCT’s performance in the three major ranking systems, we also keep in mind that every ranking system has its shortcomings, especially when it attempts to compare institutions across such a wide range of communities. For instance, universities in developing countries face challenges that are different to those of their counterparts in wealthier countries.

In South Africa one of the primary challenges is to improve access to higher education for potential students from poorer communities, and to bridge the gap between inadequate schooling and high university standards. These challenges are not reflected in the major university ranking systems, yet they are faced by every university in this country. So when a South African university is able to make progress in meeting local requirements while achieving recognition by its international peers, the reward is that much greater.

Dr. Max Price

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