You are here

Interested in studying in South Africa?

Check out our comprehensive guide!

Top Universities in Africa

Top Universities in Africa main image

If you decide to study in Africa, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to explore different cultures, landscapes, sights and general adventures in this huge and diverse continent. A total of 13 African universities are featured in the QS World University Rankings® 2020with the majority (eight) of these found in South Africa.

Read on for an overview of the top universities in Africa this year, in reverse order of appearance in this year’s ranking, including information on each university’s location and other details. The first six universities are all ranked in the 801-1000 range* and are therefore joint eighth in Africa.

QS World University Rankings 2020 - Top Universities in Africa

Africa rank Global rank University
1 =198
University of Cape Town
2 =395 American University in Cairo
3 =400 University of Witswatersrand
4 =427 Stellenbosch University
5 501-510 University of Johannesburg
6 521-530 Cairo University
7 551-560 University of Pretoria
=8 801-1000 Ain Shams University
=8 801-1000 Alexandria University
=8 801-1000 Assiut University
=8 801-1000 Rhodes University
=8 801-1000 University of Kwazulu-Natal
=8 801-1000 University of the Western Cape

=8. University of the Western Cape

University of the Western Cape

Starting off our overview of the top universities in Africa in 2019 is South Africa’s University of the Western Cape, located in the Bellville suburb of Cape Town. Founded in 1959, the university played a key role in the fight against discrimination and racial inequality in South Africa’s history.

=8. University of Kwazulu-Natal

University of Kwazulu-Natal

The South African University of Kwazulu-Natal is a young university, formed only as recently as 2004 by a merger of previous institutions. Today it has five campuses around the KwaZulu-Natal province in the south east of the country.

=8. Rhodes University

Rhodes University

Rhodes University, located in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, is named after British businessman Cecil Rhodes. The university is highly residential and relatively small, with around 8,100 students currently enrolled.

=8. Assiut University

Assiut University

Egypt’s Assiut University was established in 1957 as the first university in Upper Egypt, and is located in an urban campus in the large city of Asyut. It offers courses both English and Arabic-taught courses.

=8. Alexandria University

Alexandria University

As well as featuring here, Alexandria University is also ranked 12th in the QS Arab Region University Rankings 2019. It was originally founded in 1938 as a branch campus of Cairo University, but became a separate institution in 1942, gaining its current name in 1952.

=8. Ain Shams University

Ain Shams University

The last of the top universities in Africa to be ranked 801-1000 is the Egyptian Ain Shams University, which is ranked 13th in the QS Arab Region University Rankings 2019. Based in Cairo and established in 1950, Ain Shams is a very large institution, hosting approximately 180,000 students in 15 faculties.

7. University of Pretoria

University of Pretoria

Ranked 551-560 in the world this year (up from 561-570 last year) is South Africa’s University of Pretoria. It’s one of the largest universities in the country, with over 50,000 students at seven campuses. Established in 1908, the university also features in the top 50 of the latest QS BRICS University Rankings.

6. Cairo University

Cairo University

Egypt’s Cairo University is ranked in the 521-530 range of the overall world rankings, and 11th in the Arab regional ranking. Despite the name, its main campus is actually in Giza, 20km southwest across the Nile from Cairo.

5. University of Johannesburg

University of Johannesburg

Climbing remarkably from the 551-560 to 501-510 range this year, the University of Johannesburg is the youngest university in South Africa to feature in the QS World University Rankings, having been formed from a merger of earlier institutions as recently as 2005.

4. Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University is placed joint 427th in the world and within the top 55 of the BRICS ranking. Founded in 1918, the university is located in the town of Stellenbosch, 50 kilometers east of Cape Town.

3. University of the Witwatersrand

University of the Witwatersrand

Ranked joint 400th this year, the University of the Witwatersrand (often called Wits for short) is another South African institution, with five campuses in urban and suburban Johannesburg, the country’s largest city. The university has around 38,350 students, of which about 3,750 are international students.

2. The American University in Cairo

American University in Cairo

Heading back to Egypt for the next in our look at the best universities in Africa, the 2020 world ranking sees the American University in Cairo climb an impressive 25 places to now rank joint 395th in the world. Also ranked eighth in the most recent edition of the Arab region university rankings, it teaches in English and possesses Egypt’s largest English-language library collection.

1. University of Cape Town

University of Cape Town

Leading the way for the top universities in Africa is South Africa’s oldest university, the University of Cape Town, ranked joint 198th in the QS World University Rankings® 2020 along with the US’ University of Virginia. The campus sits upon the slopes of Table Mountain’s Devil’s Peak, offering fantastic views.

*For more information about ranking categories, and answers to other frequently asked questions, click here.

This article was originally published in September 2016. It is updated for every QS World University Rankings® launch, most recently in June 2019.

 

Related categories:

Hoang Van C, Musa N & 22 others saved this
Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

Want to leave a comment?

Please login or register to post
comment above our articles

0 Comment