02 October 2023 | Story Lacea Loader

The University of the Free State (UFS) maintained its position between 801 and 1 000 in the 2024 submission of the prestigious Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings

One of nine South African universities ranked in the top 1 000 on the THE list

The university’s first submission in 2023 provided a baseline on which to evaluate the UFS against other universities in South Africa and the world. The UFS remains one of nine South African universities ranked in the top 1 000 on the 2024 THE list, which was released on 27 September 2023, compared to 2023 when 11 South African universities ranked in the top 1 000 globally. This means that two intuitions in South Africa dropped out of the top 1 000 on the list for the 2024 rankings. 

Of the more than 2 600 institutions that submit data, 1 904 global institutions participate in the rankings. In 2023, a revised methodology was introduced to allow data to be analysed at a finer level of granularity, so that it continues to reflect the outputs of the diverse range of universities across the world. The methodology moved from 13 to 18 performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons.  

The goal is to be ranked among the top 600 universities globally by 2034

The UFS Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Francis Petersen, welcomed the institution’s ranking. “The outcome of the THE World University Rankings is in line with the university’s Vision 130, of which academic excellence, quality, and impact are the key principles.” Remaining steady in its ranking indicates that the UFS is aligned with key quality indicators expected by students, academics, leadership, industry, and government. “Our goal is to be ranked by appropriately chosen global ranking systems among the top 600 universities globally by 2034,” says Prof Petersen.

The UFS improved its scores in four out of five dimensions compared to 2023. In this regard, the university received an improved overall score range of 32.7-36.9 compared to last year’s score range of 29.8-33.9. The other dimensions of improvement were in teaching, with a rating of 22.4 (18.1 in 2023); in research, 18.7 (17.6 in 2023); for citations, 56.4 (49.4 in 2023); and international outlook, 51.7 (47.3 in 2023). 

“Rankings provide insight that helps set our university’s trajectory for the future. The university aims to continually participate in global ranking systems that measure the academic standing of the institution for benchmarking and visibility, as well as to reflect on progress over time. Overall, the UFS displays a steady and consistent improvement, which is recognised by the rigorous listing requirements,” says Prof Petersen. 

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