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21 February 2020
From Hope To Action (Through Knowledge): UWC Ranks In THE Top 200 Emerging Economies Universities

(Published - 21 February 2020}

The University of the Western Cape is guided by the ethos that one's origins do not define one's destiny - which is why, 60 years after its founding as a “bush college”, it has been acknowledged (again) as one of the top 200 universities in the Times Higher Education Emerging Economies University Rankings 2020.

“The University of the Western Cape, as an institution and a campus community, is committed to our vision of being a place of quality, and a place to grow from hope to action through knowledge,” says UWC’s Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Vivienne Lawack. “We are proud of the institution's own growth and development from a historically disadvantaged institution originally intended to educate only coloured students, to a truly international university of high repute.”

UWC has been ranked 115th out of 530 universities in 47 emerging-economy countries across four continents - the University’s best ranking yet, six places higher than in 2019, and a reflection of the institution’s ongoing academic journey and its commitment to making a positive difference in the world.

“As a research intensive university, we are committed to being a vibrant intellectual space where we engage with matters of real significance, constantly seeking new ways of improving what we offer our students,” Prof Lawack notes. “We do this while being mindful of the society in which we are located and the communities around us.”


As Times Higher Education explains, the rankings are composed using 13 rigorous performance indicators examining each university’s strengths against its core missions: teaching (the learning environment); research (volume, income and reputation); citations (research influence); international outlook (staff, students and research); and industry income (knowledge transfer).


South Africa is the top performer based on countries’ average overall score among institutions in the top 200, and seven other South African universities joined UWC in the top 200.

“As we enter our sixtieth year of existence as one of the leading higher education institutions in South Africa and on the continent, we are confident about our identity as an institution rooted in South Africa and the African continent,” Prof Lawack says. “We are ready to continue our work as a research-led teaching institution.”


Sixty Years Of Academic Excellence

As a previously disadvantaged institution, the University of the Western Cape has made significant strides in a very short period of time.

“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 remarks.

UWC has consistently been recognised as one of the top 800 universities in the world in the global THE rankings; in the top 1000 universities in the URAP ratings, the US News & World Report 2020 Best Global Universities ranking and the QS World University Ranking; and in the top 5.2% worldwide in the 2019 Center for World University Rankings. It’s 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 concludes. “We are proud of the strides that we have made in providing young people with an education that places excellence in teaching, learning, research and innovation as 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.”

Here are but some of the University’s achievements:

  • UWC Creates is the first (and only) creative writing programme in South Africa operating across three languages (English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa) – encouraging creative and social dialogue across languages, cultures and ethnicities.
  • UWC held just one South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) Chair in 2008 - and currently holds 18 of them, providing leadership in research and capacity-building in areas from Astrophysics, to Health Systems Governance, Visual History, and more.