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From Hope To Action: UWC Shines In Times Higher Education Subject Rankings 2021

Author: Nicklaus Kruger

The Times Higher Education University World Subject Rankings honour the top higher education institutions for achievements in a variety of fields. This year, UWC has been acknowledged for excellence in 8 out of 11 subject areas, from education to physics.

(Published - 30 October 2020)

Founded  as a “bush college” set up to train administrators, the University of the Western Cape has grown into one of an internationally-esteemed education institution - recognised as one of the world’s top in the 2021 Times Higher Education University World Subject Rankings.

“As a historically disadvantaged institution, the University of the Western Cape has come a long way,” says Professor Tyrone Pretorius, UWC’s Rector and Vice-Chancellor. “We have grown into an intellectual home of the left, an integral partner in building a democratic South Africa, and now, as we celebrate our 60th anniversary, a leading institution dedicated to tackling the challenges of the 21st century.”

That growth is exemplified by UWC Law, ranked 201+ in the THE Subject Rankings this year - the first time that the University has been acknowledged for its excellence in the field in any of the major university rankings...but likely not the last

“The University of the Western Cape played an important role in cementing South Africa’s new democracy, and UWC Law alumni, students and staff have made their mark in the world, researching and debating, winning national and international awards and producing groundbreaking research - as well as providing legal advice to those who need it,” says Prof Jacques De Ville, Dean of UWC’s Faculty of Law. “The UWC Law Faculty’s recognition is a welcome acknowledgement of this fact.” 

“This is a great achievement and it bears testimony to the dedication, skills and intellectual prowess of the University’s staff - and, of course, of the students as well,” says Prof Jaap De Visser, Director of UWC ‘s Dullah Omar Institute, which played a key role in the drafting of the interim and current SA Constitutions. “The Dullah Omar Institute is proud be able to contribute to its research output, teaching and, importantly, to the standing of a Faculty that conducts engaged research and pursues social justice.”

But it’s not just about past achievements. 

Over the last few years, the Faculty has been working hard to offer the best possible law degree to undergraduate students, by redesigning the LLB curriculum in line with the standards prescribed by the Council on Higher Education (CHE). The Law Faculty is in the process of establishing four Centres, the Centre for Legal Integration in Africa (CLIA), the Centre for Transformative Regulation of Work (Centrow), the Global Environmental Law Centre (Gelc), and the Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice, which will further increase its postgraduate numbers and strengthen the research culture within the Faculty. 

“While the Faculty is proud of its achievements, much remains to be done,” Prof De Ville notes. “We strive to be one of the top Law Faculties on the African continent - while continuing to serve the cause of justice in a wide variety of legal fields.”

UWC: A Spread Of Excellence

There are well over 20 000 universities around the globe. But only 1512 of these institutions were honoured with a place in the Times Higher Education’s (THE) World Subject Rankings 2021, recognising their achievements in one of 11 subject areas. And few can celebrate achievements as varied as UWC.

All told, the University excelled in eight of the eleven subject areas in the THE Subject Rankings, including:

“In recent years, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities has been engaged in concerted efforts to connect its research in humanities and teaching and learning to recognitive justice and public good,” notes Prof Monwabisi Ralarala, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at UWC. 

“Our growing reputation and significant contribution in scholarship, as the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, is now being measured on the global stage. This recognition validates our endeavours to maintain good standing status in the region.” 

The University’s performance in the Education rankings is in keeping with an institution dedicated the empowerment of future generations of leaders.

“This recognition means a lot for UWC, and for the Faculty of Education,” says Prof Vuyokazi Nomlomo, Dean of Education at UWC. “It means that the University is gaining recognition for its top quality programmes that are relevant to the teaching and learning needs of the 21st century classroom, as well as its research that responds to critical issues around the globe.  It also portrays the high calibre of our staff and students, who are committed to making a difference in the world through their teaching and learning innovations, and high impact research.”

The recognition comes as a perfect farewell gift for Prof Vuyokazi, who will shortly be taking up a position as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning at the University of Zululand.

“This achievement is a fitting testament to the Faculty I know,” she says. “I know the Faculty will continue with its collaborative, teamwork and UBUNTU spirit. It cannot settle for complacency, but must explore further opportunities of growth and excellence in this rapidly changing international space.”

Want to know more? View the full THE World Subject Rankings 2021 here. Or view some interesting UWC facts here. And why not join our UWC 60th virtual anniversary celebrations and read all about our journey from hope to excellence - and how we’re forging ahead as a university of the future?

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