Top 10 best universities in South Africa 2023

South Africa is often regarded as one of the more prosperous and technologically advanced countries in Africa.

For both good and bad, the country’s history with apartheid in the late 19th century shaped it into what it is today. While most of the rest of Africa got rid of white colonial rule in the 1960s, South Africa only ended white minority rule in 1994.

One of the legacies of that period is that most South African universities today, which have their roots in apartheid not only still retain their colonial names but are also on par with most Western universities. These universities regularly rank high on the list of best educational institutions on the continent.

Here are the top 10 highest ranked universities for anyone wishing to study in South Africa to consider.

1. University of Cape Town

The University of Cape Town is a leading research-intensive university in South Africa. It is the oldest college or university in the country. It started out as the South African College in 1829.

This university is located in the port city of Cape Town; UCT is recognized as one of the continent’s leading universities, and it ranks among the world’s best universities.

Cape Town University is home to around 29,000 students from across Africa and beyond and boasts a highly diverse student body. There are professors and researchers on the faculty who are known all over the world and are dedicated to giving all students a great education.

2. Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University is a school located in the city of Stellenbosch in South Africa. This university is one of the oldest in the country and is renowned for its excellence in research and teaching.

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Also, the university was founded in 1918 and currently has around 29,000 students enrolled across nine faculties, including science, medicine, and health sciences, law, military science, engineering, and more.

Stellenbosch University is a world-class institution that offers its students an excellent education combined with a vibrant student life.

3. University of the Witwatersrand

The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) is a university that is located in Johannesburg, South Africa, and it is one of the top universities in Africa.

 It was founded in 1896 and is the third-oldest university in the country. The university has a student population of around 39,000, making it one of the largest on the continent.

Students at Wits are usually given access to world-class facilities, including a library with more than 500,000 books and an extensive selection of electronic databases. It also provides student services, from counseling and career guidance to health care.

4. Rhodes University

Rhodes University is one of the top African universities in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa. It was founded in 1904 and is the fourth-oldest university in the country.

This university offers a range of undergraduate, postgraduate, and professional degree programs in the arts, commerce, education, law, natural sciences, and pharmacy.

The university is known for its high academic standards and excellent teaching, offering a wide range of courses to over 8,000 students.

Rhodes University is one of the best schools in Africa, and it gives its students a great education. Rhodes University is a great place for international students to study and learn about life in South Africa. It has a strong research program and lots of cultural events.

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5. University of KwaZulu-Natal

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is a public university in South Africa. Founded in 1910, the university is one of Africa’s oldest and most respected educational institutions. According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, it is ranked fourth among the best universities in Africa.

This university is located in Durban, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal province; UKZN has six regional campuses. Its main campus, Howard College, is located in the city center and covers 810 hectares of land.

If you want to get a degree from one of the best universities in Africa that is recognized around the world, the University of KwaZulu-Natal is a great choice.

6. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

The South African city of Port Elizabeth is home to Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). It is among the top 10 largest universities in the country, with an enrollment of over 30,000 students. NMMU offers a wide range of courses, including business and engineering, as well as sciences and humanities.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University is a great choice for South African students who want to go to college. NMMU is a good choice because it has great research opportunities, a wide range of courses, and staff members who work hard.

7. University of Pretoria

The University of Pretoria is located in the capital city of South Africa and is one of the top universities in the country.

The University was started in 1908 and has grown to be one of the most prestigious places to get a college degree on the continent. It is one of the top 10 universities in Africa and has programs for both undergraduates and graduate students in many different fields.

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8. University of the Western Cape

The University of the Western Cape is a South African university and one of the top universities in Africa. The University was founded in 1959 to serve mainly the color minority group, and its mission is to be an institution of excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement.

Some of the faculties at UWC are the natural sciences, the humanities, economics and management, law, health sciences, and education.

9. Walter Sisulu University

Walter Sisulu University is one of the top universities in Africa. It is located in Mthatha, South Africa, and was established in 2005 after the merger of four previously independent universities. Walter Sisulu University offers a variety of courses and degrees in fields such as engineering, science, and commerce.

10. University of South Africa

The University of South Africa (UNISA) is one of the largest and most influential universities in Africa, and this university is located in Pretoria, South Africa.

UNISA has courses and programs that lead to higher education degrees that are recognized by the government, such as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees.


The universities listed above represent some of the best higher education institutions in Africa.

Each of these universities offers a great way to learn, a wide range of courses and degrees, and the chance to get a world-class education.

So, whether you’re looking for a career-focused degree, want to pursue an advanced research project, or want to experience the vibrant student life that South African universities offer, these ten universities are sure to meet your needs.

Ibrahim Ismail

A passionate and highly skilled individual who has seamlessly blended the worlds of statistics, technology, and finance.

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