Stellenbosch University (SU) has improved its global standing in the subject areas of Clinical and Health, Education, Law as well as Arts and Humanities according to the 2023 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings (WUR) by Subject. The rankings were released on Tuesday (25 October 2022).
SU now ranks among the world’s top 150 institutions in the area of Clinical and Health, the top 200 in Law, the top 250 in Education, and the top 300 in Arts and Humanities. Overall, the institution features among the best 300 universities in the world in five of the 11 subject categories on the THE WUR list.
Top of SA’s crop
In South Africa, SU shares first place in Engineering and Technology with Unisa and North-West University, while leading the way in Physical Sciences alongside North-West University, the University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of the Free State, Rhodes University, and the University of the Western Cape. In Education, SU ranks second, and in Clinical and Health, shares second place with the University of the Witwatersrand, after UCT.
For the second year in a row, SU is also the best university in Computer Science in the country, having again made it into the top 500 universities in the world in this area.
Prof Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs, says that the general improvement on the THE World University Rankings by Subject follows closely on SU improving on three of the five performance indicators used in compiling the overarching 2023 THE World Universities Rankings that was announced recently. “This is further testimony of the University’s reputation as one of the leading research-intensive universities in the world and to the institution’s vision of being Africa’s leading research-intensive university, globally recognised as excellent, inclusive and innovative, where we advance knowledge in service of society.”
Commenting on the improvement in the Education score, Prof Christa van der Walt, Deputy Dean of Research in the Faculty of Education, said this could probably be attributed to an increase in research outputs. “From 2020 to 2021, our number of published articles increased by 33%. One can assume that this increase would have resulted in more citations.”
Prof Nicola Smit, Dean of the Faculty of Law, says that continuous improvement is “an indicator of excellence and we are therefore pleased with our improved position on the recent THE WUR subject ranking.”
Prof Anthony Leysens, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, noted that he was satisfied with this significant improvement as the faculty had worked hard during the past years to show the relevance of the humanities to address the grand challenges of today through our teaching and research.
“Despite the complex nature of rankings, they still provide a strong indication of the popularity of your programme,” comments Prof Brink van der Merwe, Head of Division: Computer Science in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. “Like probably many other computer science departments, our student numbers have doubled over the last 5 years. Our favourable position in the ranking does mean that we can attract stronger candidates and that they undertake their Computer Science studies at SU. Our new BSc in Computer Science programme also creates interesting subject choices for students.”
The subject tables employ the same range of 13 performance indicators used in the overall THE World University Rankings 2022. These are then combined to provide scores under the five categories of teaching (the learning environment), research (volume, income and reputation), citations (research influence), international outlook (staff, students and research) and industry income (innovation).
However, the overall methodology is carefully recalibrated for each subject, with the weightings changed to suit the individual fields.
Trend of excellence
Earlier this year, SU also ranked among the best tertiary institutions in the world on the QS World University Rankings by Subject, having come out tops in South Africa for Agriculture and Forestry as well as Theology, Divinity and Religious Studies. Moreover, the University was ranked as the best in the country in Food Science and Technology, Communication and Agricultural Sciences by ShanghaiRanking‘s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects.