UJ debuts on Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-2017

Landing in the 601-800 position, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has made its debut on the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016-17, released on Wednesday, 21 September 2016.

Times Higher Education is the world’s most authoritative source of news and information for higher education professionals, academics and students. THE World University Rankings, now in their 13th year, apply rigorous standards, using tough global benchmarks across all of a global research university’s key missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

UJ’s strongest score is for International Outlook, followed by Research, Industry Income, Citations and Teaching.

Phil Baty, the editor of Times Higher Education World University Rankings, said: “There are understood to be more than 20,000 higher education institutions in the world, so to feature among the 980 universities ranked by Times Higher Education is in itself a great achievement – demonstrating membership of a small, global elite.” Baty continues: “To be even considered for inclusion in the THE rankings, universities must have a proven track record in producing quality academic research, so making it onto the list is something to be celebrated.”

The University of Johannesburg joins eight South African universities on the list as one of this year’s top 980 universities from 79 different countries. The top 980 list represents just 5 per cent of the world’s higher education institutions.

As a young institution, celebrating its 11th year in 2016, UJ also made its debut in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Top 50 Under 50 (2016/2017) ranking of the world’s top 100 universities younger than 50 years old – the only university in Africa on this year’s list.

Methodology key facts

World University Rankings 2016-2017 methodology

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings are the only global performance tables that judge research-intensive universities across all their core missions: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. They use 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons, trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.

The performance indicators are grouped into five areas:

  • Teaching (the learning environment)
  • Research (volume, income and reputation)
  • Citations (research influence)
  • International outlook (staff, students and research)
  • Industry income (knowledge transfer)


Universities are excluded from the World University Rankings if they do not teach under­graduates or if their research output amounted to fewer than 1,000 articles between 2011 and 2015 (and a minimum of 150 a year). Universities can also be excluded if 80 per cent or more of their activity is exclusively in one of the eight subject areas.

Data collection

Institutions provide and sign off their institutional data for use in the rankings. On the rare occasions when a particular data point is not provided THE enters a low estimate between the average value of the indicators and the lowest value reported: the 25th percentile of the other indicators. By doing this, THE avoids penalising an institution too harshly with a “zero” value for data that it overlooks or does not provide, but the ratings body does not reward it for withholding them.

Getting to the final result

Moving from a series of specific data points to indicators, and finally to a total score for an institution, requires THE to match values that represent fundamentally different data. To do this they use a standardisation approach for each indicator, and then combine the indicators in the proportions indicated to the right.

The standardisation approach THE uses is based on the distribution of data within a particular indicator, where the ratings body calculates a cumulative probability function, and evaluates where a particular institution’s indicator sits within that function. A cumulative probability score of X in essence says that a university with random values for that indicator would fall below that score X per cent of the time.

For all indicators except for the Academic Reputation Survey, THE calculates the cumulative probability function using a version of Z-scoring. The distribution of the data in the Academic Reputation Survey requires THE to add an exponential component.

The calculation of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings has been subject to independent audit by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

For the full methodology please click here.

About Times Higher Education magazine

Times Higher Education is the world’s most authoritative source of information about higher education. Designed specifically for professional people working in higher education and research, THE was founded in 1971 and has been online since 1995. It is published by TES Global.

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