South Africa’s University of Cape Town (UCT) has been ranked the top tertiary institution on the content and the 155th out of the 200 best universities around the globe listed in the World University Rankings.

Times Higher Education, a weekly magazine based in London which reports specifically on news and issues related to higher education, made the announcement in a statement released on Wednesday.

UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

This is not the first time UCT has been listed among the best performing universities in the world. In July, it was ranked 220 in the 17th edition of the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings report.

In terms of top 200 representation, the United Stated dominates with 59 spots, while the United Kingdom is next with 29 followed by Germany with 21.

Overall, European representation is in a steady decline, losing nine places in the last five years as a result of China, Australia, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Canada all gaining positions.

“We have observed the rise of Asia in the world rankings for several years now, but this year marks a major milestone, as mainland China’s Tsinghua University disrupts the traditional domination of Western universities at the top of the table, breaking into the top 20 for the first time, and as mainland China doubles its representation in the top 100,” said Times Higher Education chief knowledge officer Phil Baty.

“This new ranking provides further clear evidence of a shift in the balance of power in the global knowledge economy from the established higher education systems in the west to those in parts of the East.”

UCT is making plans to invite its final-year medical students to participate in a controlled return to campus. File Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Baty said this trend was likely to accelerate further as the coronavirus pandemic heralded a perfect storm of huge challenges for primarily Western universities, particularly those in the US and UK, who faced the very real risk of losing significant international student talent and thus billions of dollars in fees.

“While the universities at the very top of the table, with long histories of success and prestige, will prove hard to unseat, these factors, combined with the effects of a possible deep and long-lasting global recession and its likely impact on university funding levels, could herald the start a dramatic re-balancing of the global knowledge economy,” Baty added.

-ANA, editing by Stella Mapenzauswa