The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) global stature and academic robustness have been given a significant boost through its inclusion in the Top 500 universities in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) released by the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy on Tuesday, 15 August 2017.
ARWU is the most prestigious global ranking system in the world which uses only externally accessed, objective measures in its assessment of university performance. It is a ranking system that is heavily focused on research quality and impact.
Not only was this UJ’s first appearance in this ranking system, but the University find itself ranked highly in relation to its peer South African universities, having been placed 4th in South Africa between Stellenbosch University in third place and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in fifth place, all in the 401-500 band. Wits University heads the list in the 201-300 band followed by the University of Cape Town in the 301-400 ranking band. The University of Pretoria falls in the 501-600 ranking band, followed by North West University in the 601-700 band and the University of South Africa in the 701-800 band.
Says Professor Ihron Rensburg, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of UJ, “This is a tremendous accomplishment and recognition for UJ, and it has been accomplished on our own terms of substantial access and success for the poorest in our nation, significant transformation of our academic community, alongside the active pursuit of global teaching and research excellence.”
UJ has adopted a vigorous transformation agenda since its establishment in 2005, in order for staff and students to appropriately reflect the national and regional demographics and is recording good progress in this respect. In the instance of the transformation of UJ’s academic staff profile, the University has since 2006 grown its Black academic staff component from 160 to 495. While in the instance of access to the University for our poorest communities has seen first year undergraduate enrolment from Quintile 1 and 2 schools (that serve the poorest in our nation) grow from 8% in 2006 to 31% in 2017.
Prof Rensburg stressed that decolonisation as well as the Africanisation of knowledge have led to substantial dialogues at UJ. “It provided the University the opportunity to ask searching questions about our African identity and our role in nurturing the New Africa, and the future of our University. One such advance is the current work being done on the development of the online undergraduate module, ‘African Insights’, which aims to expose all our first-year students to an African canon and to the reflections and writings of leading intellectuals and thought leaders from the continent. This unique offering, an important juncture on UJ’s journey towards decolonisation, is supplemented by on-campus seminars, author interviews, play screenings and other exciting opportunities for discussion.”
Prof Rensburg concludes: “Alongside the University’s QS Top 100 Under 50 Universities Ranking, this Shanghai Ranking result is received with great joy and celebration, as we continue to forge ahead and scale new heights.”