The Top Universities in South Africa - Best University Choice Yor You

No matter your age, race or background, finding a suitable university is an important step when delving into adulthood. It’s important to do some research beforehand to establish all of your options, and to see which institutions will allow you to grow and pursue your dream profession.


Here are the Top 10 Universities in South Africa.

1. University of Cape Town

 UCT has been ranked the number one university in South Africa for many consecutive years. Due to its reputable courses, lecturers and research facilities, it’s easy to understand why this university has so much to offer.

The University of Cape Town is the oldest university in the country, dating back to 1829. UCT is known as a multinational and multicultural university, with over 5000 staff members and over 29 000 students attending the university from over 100 countries. UCT has a proud tradition of academic excellence and is currently one of the top universities in the world when it comes to research and addressing the challenges of our times, using cutting edge technology and facilities. As a university, UCT has a vision of promoting transformation, to guarantee the sustainability of the institution and to change the lives of every student who enters their doors.

UCT offers various degrees based on their six faculties: Commerce, Engineering and the Built Environment, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law and Science.


2. University of Pretoria

The University of Pretoria has been a top contender for years, ranking high on the list for top universities in South Africa. UP strides for being just more than your typical university - “it’s a way of life”.

The University of Pretoria was founded in 1908, starting small with just over 4 professors and 32 students. Now, they host thousands of students over seven campuses, the largest campus situated in the heart of Hatfield, Pretoria. With over 121 programs to choose from, every student is welcome to join their family and start building their academic and professional careers. What makes UP so unique, is that it boasts South Africa’s only Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, a well sought after program for many young South Africans. UP has a vision of transforming their campuses into dynamic communities and striving to find solutions to society’s most pressing concerns.


3. University of the Witwatersrand

The University of Witwatersrand, located in the economic and industrial heart of South Africa, was established in 1923 and is fast becoming one of the top universities in South Africa. WITS has a mission to become one of the world’s leading research intensive universities, aiming to become the gateway for research engagement and intellectual achievement.

Today, WITS boasts over 5 faculties, of which include the faculties of Commerce, Law and Management; Engineering and the Built Environment; Health Sciences; Humanities and Sciences. With over 3400 courses to choose from, many local and international students choose WITS as their home for their university studies due to its diverse course selection. WITS has many values that they uphold, some including international engagement, academic freedom, intellectual excellence and providing trust between its staff and students.


4. University of Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch University is a name known by many. Established in 1918 (though it has roots dating back as far as 1864) Stellenbosch University is one of the oldest institutions in the country. The University is situated in Stellenbosch, a small and picturesque town filled with shops, cafes and restaurants. Any student’s dream when deciding on your home for the next 4 years of your life.

Stellenbosch University is home to over 40 000 students, all striving for academic excellence. With over 10 faculties, including Agri-Sciences, Economic and Management Sciences, Medical and Health Sciences, Engineering, Military Sciences, Arts and Social Sciences, Education, Law, Theology and Sciences, there is a course that will fit any student’s requirements. Stellenbosch University welcomes all students of all diverse backgrounds, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, language or origins.

Stellenbosch University is an institute that strives to make their campuses feel like home to every student, local and international. Campus culture is vital to the university in helping students to relax and feel like they belong, with established events such as ‘Vensters’ and Maties Rugby, the little town of Stellenbosch is always bustling with exciting events to keep the locals and the students entertained year-round.


5. University of Johannesburg

Vibrant, multicultural and dynamic. Those are the three concepts the University of Johannesburg strives to uphold on a daily basis. UJ is one of the biggest universities in South Africa, hosting up to 50 000 students per year where over 3000 of those students are international students from over 80 countries across the world.

The University of Johannesburg has a vision to become an ‘International University of choice’, aiming to host as many international students as possible. UJ has 7 faculties: Education, Law, Humanities, Design and Architecture, Health Sciences, Science, Engineering and the Built Environment, as well as a college dedicated to Business and Economics. With a big diversity in courses, UJ offers world-class, internationally recognized programs that are designed to prepare students for the world of work.

UJ prides itself on their warm and welcoming environment and staff members and will never falter from their four core values: imagination, conversation, regeneration and ethical foundation.


6. North-West University

North-West University is a fairly new university in South Africa, only established in 2004. As a fresh contribution to the South African education system, NWU aspires to be an internationally recognized university, known for its engaged academics, social responsiveness and establishing an ethic of care.

With 3 campuses, hosting 8 faculties including Economic and Management Sciences, Education, Engineering, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law, Agriculture Sciences and theology, NWU has many courses to choose from for scholars looking to pursue their dream career. North-West University has a purpose of excelling in innovative learning and teaching, fostering a healthy relationship with both it’s staff members and the students they host. NWU prides itself in offering flexible study options to both distance and contact students, aiming to offer people a place in the world.

As NWU’s anthem says: ‘Where the willow trees grow and the thorn three spreads its shade, there you will grow in knowledge.'


7. University of KwaZulu-Natal

The University of KwaZulu-Natal - inspiring greatness. The University of KwaZulu-Natal is a young contender on the list of the best universities in South Africa. Formed in 2004 between the merging of two formerly known universities, The University of Durban-Westville and the University of Natal, this new university brings together a rich history of academic excellence.

The University consists of 4 colleges, known as the College of Engineering, Agriculture and Science, the College of Health Sciences, the College of Law and Management Sciences and the College of Humanities. With over 19 schools in total, the University of KwaZulu-Natal brings a diverse range of courses for any student to pursue their dream career. The University has a mission of being the ‘University of Choice’, where academic excellence and innovative research will be used to help young people grow into scientists, engineers and researchers.

UKZN aims to become an internationally recognized university, where their guiding values, such as respect, honesty and trust can help them to reach their institutional goals.


8. Rhodes University

Rhodes University is a small and well-established university, founded in 1904 with the goal of achieving excellence in all aspects of their academics. With just over 8000 students each year, Rhodes University has a reputation for achieving some of the highest undergraduate pass rates in South Africa.

With over 150 buildings, including 39 residences, Rhodes University aims to create the ideal environment for any student of any background to feel like they belong. With 6 faculties, including Commerce, Education, Humanities, Law, Pharmacy and Science, Rhodes University is home to many local and international students. Rhodes University has a mission to produce outstanding internationally accredited graduates who will learn life-long skills to one day teach, research and contribute to make South Africa a better place.

Rhodes University prides itself on the relationship they develop both with their staff and students. They offer various cultural, sport and leadership opportunities where they can contribute to the all-round development of their students.


9. University of the Western Cape

The University of the Western Cape was established in 1960 and has a very unique place in the South African higher education system. UWC is a university committed to ensure excellence in learning, teaching and research in a globally competitive environment.

UWC is home to more than 23 000 students and offers various programs across 7 faculties, including Arts and Humanities, Community Health Sciences, Dentistry, Economic and Management Sciences, Education, Law and Natural Sciences. What makes UWC so unique is the various international partnerships it nurtures to ensure an exciting exchange of students from various countries. The University of the Western Cape has three core principles: reciprocity, equity and mutual respect. With these principles, UWC aims to create world-class leaders, teachers and researchers.


10. University of the Free State

The University of the Free State is a well-known institution in South Africa, operating for more than 120 years since its establishment in 1904. UFS caters to all local and international students, aspiring to contribute to an everchanging education landscape.

The University of the Free State is home to over 40 000 students, hosting 7 faculties including Economic and Management Sciences, Education, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, and Theology and Religion. UFS is also home to a Business School where non-curricular training is offered to assist companies and individuals to bridge the gap between their existing and potential skills and competencies.

UFS has a vision of contributing to the development of the South African community and to create social justice through the production of competitive and knowledgeable graduates. UFS has many goals to improve South African student success and well-being while creating an institutional culture where anyone is welcome.


South Africa is known for its diversity, and as a result, our universities make it their mission to uphold and cater to our country’s diversity and development. With so many universities to choose from, it’s impossible not to find a place where you as a student will feel like part of a family.