The best universities in Africa

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(Last updated on: 27/01/2022)

Want to know which are the best universities in Africa? Then you have come to the right place! I have examined which universities perform well and which have the best ratings across the continent, read on to find out which are the best universities in Africa….

The best universities in Africa

There are many incredible universities across Africa, spanning various countries across this beautiful, diverse and interesting continent. Universities from South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria and Uganda can be found within the top 10 best universities in Africa. Going further, within the top 27 HE institutions in Africa there are also universities in Tunisia, Kenya, Morocco, Botswana, and Ghana. With so many options, this list of the best universities in Africa might give you some inspiration about where to study in this beautiful part of the world!

With Africa being such a vast and diverse continent, it is obvious that there will be a huge variety when it comes to the best universities. The below universities’ rankings are taken from the most recent Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings (2021). This is one of the best reputed sources when it comes to seeing how well-renowned a particular university is!

Without further ado, let’s dive in to the best universities in Africa! This post will go from number 10 down to number 1; however, there are 5 universities in joint place at number 5 and 4 in joint place at number 10. The section below explains this further!

Joint best universities in Africa

At numbers 5 and 10 in the below list there is more than one university. This is because The Times set out their rankings in a way that means all of the universities within a certain fifty or hundred spots worldwide will be ranked the same in a smaller selection. So, for example, all of the universities at number 5 below fell within the 401-500 rankings worldwide!

This means that within this ‘top 10’ there are actually more than 10 institutions. There are a lot of great universities across Africa, that’s for sure…

Ferhat Abbas Sétif University 1

UFAS1 was founded in 1978 as the Sétif University Centre, and is located in Sétif in Algeria. The university was split into two a decade ago, in 2011. UFAS1 now has eight faculties with 141 degree courses available and 39 research institutes. It also has three campuses and an experimental farm! The university is often described as the “cradle of Algerian independence” and ranks 10th across Africa.

Lagos State University 

Also in the number 10 spot is Lagos State University in Nigeria. This is one of the country’s public universities and it has three campuses, located in Ukeja, Ojo and Epa. It is non-residential, and serves as the only uni in Lagos State. There are over 35,000 students studying degrees in chemical and polymer engineering, transport, law, environmental studies and more.

North West University 

Located in South Africa, North West University also falls into the #10 spot. It was formed post-apartheid, from the merging of three other universities – two of which were primarily black with the other being predominantly white. They have five Research Centres of Excellence, and a further 10 research units. North West University prides itself on their strong sports tradition, their multilingualism and their social responsibility. Their strongest courses are in geography, psychology and environmental sciences.

Suez Canal University 

Located in Egypt, this is the last of the number 10 spots. Suez Canal University is on the west bank of the canal, and it was founded in the 70s. The uni now has more than 20 faculties with learning facilities in Ismailia, El-Arish, Suez and Port Said. It is a large university offering courses up to doctoral level. The university hopes to “become a centre of excellence in the field of applied scientific research and scientific innovation”.

Aswan University 

In Egypt again, this is the first of five universities to take the number 5 spot in terms of the best universities in Africa. Aswan University was originally a branch of Assuit University but gained independent status in 2012. It has courses in social work, education, archaeology, agriculture and more. Students studying relevant courses have brilliant access to the many, many historical sites in the area. The uni also hosts a yearly sports festival for other universities to compete in.

Durban University of Technology 

Established in 2002 and located in South Africa, Durban was born from the merging of two other universities – ML Sultan and Technikon Natal. It has six faculties including management sciences, engineering & the built environment, arts & design and more. You can study up to doctorate level here. They have won awards in social entrepreneurship and have fantastic opportunities for students to kickstart their careers.

University of Ibadan

Located in Nigeria, the University of Ibadan is another sitting at #5 in the list of the best universities in Africa. It was Nigeria’s first university and today has 13 faculties included veterinary medicine, law, dentistry, social sciences and more. It is also home to the largest postgraduate school in the whole of Africa – and they offer distance learning too across the board. With their own zoological and botanical gardens, this is a brilliant university with a lot to offer.

Makerere University 

Makerere University is situated in Uganda, and it was established in 1922. It is the country’s oldest HE institution and now has 3 campuses, a 350-acre farm and its own conservation field station. It is actually one of the best universities in Africa in terms of gender equality – always striving to do more to achieve this goal with various initiatives.

Mansoura University 

Located in Egypt, Mansoura University is the last of the joint #5 universities. On the east bank of the beautiful River Nile, the university has 15 faculties, a student hospital, three on-site accommodations and more. There are off-campus faculties too. The uni is best known for its courses in medicine – they have the largest Urology and Nephrology Centre across Africa!

University of KwaZulu-Natal

In at number four is the University of KwaZulu-Natal, located in the Durban area of South Africa. It is a teaching and research-led university, and one of the biggest and oldest in sub-Saharan Africa. A very modern institution, a lot has changed over the years but it remains of the very best universities in Africa. It has four colleges (Agriculture, Engineering & Science, Health Sciences, Humanities, and Law & Management Studies) with 4-6 schools each. There are over 2000 courses available here…

Stellenbosch University

Another South African offering (spoiler, all of the top 4 universities in Africa are in SA!), Stellenbosch is over 100 years old and is a research-intensive university. Founded in 1918, it was originally tiny. Now it has ten faculties, five campuses, 32,000+ students from one hundred global nations… it really has grown into one o the best universities in Africa. Faculties include theology, education, economic & management sciences and more. The university has a proud sports tradition, and many opportunities for students to grow in all areas of life.

University of the Witwatersrand

the University of the Witwatersrand (more commonly known as Wits) is in at number 2 and located in Johannesburg, South Africa. It got its full university status in 1922, with a brilliant attitude to race (non-discriminatory) from the get-go. During the apartheid, this caused a lot of conflict with governing bodies and led to police raids and arrests. Nelson Mandela studied law here, and he and other students have gone on to win Nobel Prizes! Wits boasts 5 excellent faculties: commerce, law & management, engineering & the built environment, health sciences, humanities, and science.

University of Cape Town

Located in Cape Town, South Africa, the University of Cape Town ranks at number 1. This makes it *the* best university in Africa. It is number 155 worldwide, and prides itself on being a multicultural university. There are around 29,000 students from 100 countries worldwide studying at UCT. With a community that is diverse and dedicated to making it somewhere students can thrive, it is no wonder it ranks so highly. Some of its best course are in oceanology, clinical medicine, cardiac & cardiovascular systems, environmental science & engineering, and immunology.

This quote from UCT’s vice-chancellor, Professor Mamokgeti Phakeng, sums up the ethos of this institution: “The world is wobbling on its axis, and the old certainties – good and bad – are unravelling. To cope with the uncertain future we face, we are going to need three things: an unrelenting commitment to excellence, an exceptional focus on transformation and the courage to do things differently. Among all these uncertainties, I am sure of this: that the research community at UCT is up to the challenge.” 

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