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Making A Difference: UWC Among World's Best In Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2020

Author: Nicklaus Kruger

Poverty, climate change, education, inequality: these are the challenges we face as a global society in the twenty-first century. And the University of the Western Cape is leading the way - as seen in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings.

(Published - 23 April 2020)

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) is honoured to have been recognised (once again) as one of the world’s leading socially and environmentally aware higher education institutions in the world according to Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings 2020.

“UWC has positioned itself as an intellectual base for solving challenges set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - challenges relevant to South Africa, the African continent, and the world as a whole,” said Professor Vivienne Lawack, UWC’s Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor. “But we do not just approach these challenges on a theoretical level - it is part of the University’s DNA to really engage with these issues, to get our hands dirty and do the hard work needed to make a difference.”

The THE University Impact Rankings, launched last year, are the only global rankings to document evidence of universities’ impact on society, rather than just research and teaching performance. They represent an unusual - but extremely important - way of gauging university performance - recognising institutions for their commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which include poverty alleviation, efforts towards gender equality and taking action against climate change.

UWC excelled in several specific SDG areas, including:

  • SDG 1: No Poverty (Where UWC ranked 10th)
  • SDG 4: Quality Education
  • SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals

As Africa’s greenest university, UWC places emphasis on these international and national goals by using a multi-disciplinary approach rooted in learning and teaching, research and innovation, and social entrepreneurship - and, of course, community engagement.

“UWC has matured into an institution that differentiates itself on three pillars: work-readiness for its graduates, community engagement and social justice. These three pillars form part of the DNA of UWC and they are the base from which we build towards Vision 2030,” Prof Lawack remarked. “We are preparing graduates who can adapt to, engage with and think deeply about the opportunities and risks available in a rapidly-changing world.”

UWC: 60 Years Of Hope, Knowledge - And Action

The University Impact Rankings announcement comes as the University of the Western Cape celebrates its 60th anniversary, marking its long journey from a “bush college” set up to train administrators to an intellectual home of the left - an integral part of the new democratic South Africa, and a producer of world-class teaching and research.

“UWC’s motto, Respice Prospice (looking back, looking forward), reminds us of the foundation the University has built out of the struggle against apartheid, forging its way into becoming one of the premier academic and research institutions in South Africa - and the world,” Prof Lawack remarked. “As a University, we have indeed come of age, and grown from hope to action, through knowledge - and we have used that growth to help others stand taller as well.”

As a historically disadvantaged institution, UWC has made significant strides, and it is not the first time the University has been recognised in this way on the global stage. 

The University has consistently been recognised as one of the top 800 universities in the world - in the global THE rankings and in the top 200 for emerging economies list, in the top 1000 universities in the URAP ratings, the US News & World Report 2020 Best Global Universities rankings and the QS World University Ranking, and in the top 5.2% worldwide in the Center for World University Rankings.

It is also the only South African university to have been ranked among the world’s top 200 higher education institutions in the very first Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings 2019.

“We are privileged to be associated with a campus community where there is a real sense of our strengths and accomplishments,” Prof Lawack concluded. “We are proud of the strides that we have made in providing an education that places excellence in teaching, learning, research and innovation at its centre, and we are mindful of the journey we still have to take as we continue to change the world, one graduate at a time.”

Want to know more about the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings? Looking for more interesting UWC facts? Just 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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