The University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) have dropped in the Times Higher Education 2017 rankings, with researchers warning SA universities could disappear from the top 200 if the trend continues.
Editorial director of Times Higher Education Phil Baty said institutions in SA had been heavily affected by issues such as student protests and insufficient funding, which affected international perception and the general academic environment.
The Times Higher Education rankings evaluate 1,000 universities from 77 countries based on teaching, research output, international outlook, reputation and industry income.
UCT was again the highest placed university in Africa at number 171, but fell 23 places from 2016. Wits was second on the continent, dropping from 182nd to the 251-300 bracket. Stellenbosch University was third, followed by the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Baty said he was disappointed with SA's decline in the rankings and called for more investment in universities to keep institutions competitive.
SA's top four varsities were followed by Uganda's Makerere University. Egypt's Beni-Suef University also placed higher than the University of Johannesburg, the University of Pretoria and the University of the Western Cape.
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