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UJ shows stellar performance in the QS World Rankings, bagging ‘Most Improved’ award

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has been ranked among the top universities globally in one of the world’s most watched and highly anticipated annual university rankings. The latest 2025 edition of the QS World University Rankings by global higher education analyst QS Quacquarelli Symonds, released on Tuesday, 4 June 2024, sees UJ placed #312 in the world out of a record 1,503 featured institutions. This means that UJ has retained its global standing among the top 350 and is ranked among the top 4 universities in the African continent.

Recently, UJ was named the top university in South Africa and across the African continent among institutions younger than 50 years, according to the Times Higher Education (THE) Young University Rankings released last month. In the latest QS Rankings, UJ has been recognised for its stellar performance at the QS EduData Summit held between 4-5 June 2024. The University received the Most Improved – Africa Award for showing the biggest improvement among African institutions in their global ranking over the last five years.

How this ranking works:

The QS rankings measure performance across five performance lenses broken down into nine indicators in total that carry different weights.

  • The Research and Discovery lens accounts for 50% of the ranking, with two indicators: Academic Reputation (30%) and Citations per Faculty (20%), by faculty QS means the academic staff.
  • The Employability and Outcomes lens accounts for 20%, with two indicators: Employer Reputation (15%) and Employment Outcomes (5%).
  • The Learning Experience lens accounts for 10%, with a single indicator: Faculty Student Ratio (10%), which is just the ratio of academic staff to students.
  • The Global Engagement lens accounts for 15%, with three indicators: International Research Network (5%), International Faculty (5%) (again, this refers to the international academic staff), and International Students (5%).
  • The Sustainability lens accounts for 5% with a single eponymous indicator: Sustainability (5%).

This global ranking is the first to incorporate both sustainability and employability factors as key measures into its methodology.

How UJ stacks up

UJ’s overall score increased by one point from 34 to 35. Like last year, the University performed exceptionally well in the International Research Network indicator, achieving a score of 98.0 and rising six spots to rank #26 globally, the second best in the country. One of South Africa’s youngest universities, UJ jumped one place in the International Faculty indicator, to #134 in the world, achieving a score of 96.5, coming out on top in South Africa.

UJ also recorded improvements for the International Students and Academic Reputation indicators, rising one spot to #285 for International Students, the best nationally, and 27 places to #513 for Academic Reputation. UJ’s biggest improvements this year were in the Faculty Student Ratio indicator, where it climbed 42 places to #388 globally, and in the Citations per Faculty indicator, where it rose 50 places to #499 globally, moving up one place to #4 in South Africa. Indicators where UJ fell but still performed favourably relative to other institutions included Employment Outcomes (down 25 spots to #190, but with a score of 63.1) and Employer Reputation (down 57 places to #491, with a score of 17.9), both of which relate to graduate employability.

This year’s QS World University Rankings 2025 feature a record 1,503 institutions out of the 5,663 evaluated from 106 countries and territories across the globe, including 11 from South Africa. Of South Africa’s 11 ranked universities, two climbed, six dropped, and three remained stable within their rank bands. South Africa remains the powerhouse in Africa, holding the region’s top four positions in the rankings. The University of Cape Town is the continent’s highest-ranked institution at #171, an improvement of two places, followed by the University of the Witwatersrand (ranked #267), Stellenbosch University (ranked #296), and rounding out the top four, the University of Johannesburg (ranked #312), each slipping down this year by a few places.

Professor Letlhokwa George Mpedi, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, UJ, welcomed the latest rankings. “The rankings demonstrate the robustness of UJ’s academic programmes as well as its research and innovation for societal impact. UJ’s achievements go beyond mere statistics; they represent the meaningful and lasting impact we have on our students and the wider community. Credit goes to our academics, researchers, students and support and administrative staff for their commitment and dedication to making UJ a world-class University.”

Access and discover the full QS World University Rankings 2025 results tables here.

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