2016 # South Africa leads the way for African education

South Africa leads the way for African higher education in latest global ranking

QS’s new ranking assesses nations providing best environment for university success

London, 18th May 2016: QS Quacquarelli Symonds, global higher education analysts, have today released the 2016 instalment of the Higher Education System Strength (HESS) rankings. The ranking, which aims to identify the best national environments for higher education institutions, sees South Africa rank in 30th place. In doing so, it becomes the only African nation to place in the published rankings.

Four European nations rank among the world’s top 10. The United Kingdom’s higher education system is second only to that of the United States, while Germany’s ranks 3rd. France and the Netherlands complete the European top-10 quartet, ranking 6thand 7th respectively.

The rankings represent a new attempt to use university rankings performance alongside other metrics to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a country’s higher education environment. In doing so, they aim to assist governmental bodies charged with improving their nation’s higher education system to benchmark against competitor nations.

Other key results include:

  • The United States leads the 2016 instalment, with Canada (5th) the other top-10 North American nation;
  • Three of the world’s top 10 are Asian – China (8th), South Korea (9th), and Japan (10th);
  • The Latin American nation with the strongest higher education environment is Argentina (18th); it is the only Latin American nation placing within the top 20;
  • 50 countries are ranked this year across six continents;
  • Europe is more featured than any other continent, with 22 of its nations providing a top-50 higher education institution.

QS’s latest ranking aims to measure the factors that make a nation’s higher education system more likely to succeed. It is based on four criteria, each weighted equally:

  • System strength. This measures the rankings performance of a nation’s institutions;
  • Access. This measures how likely a talented individual is to find a place at a top university in their home country, based on the number of places available at said institutions and population size;
  • Flagship. This measures the global performance of a nation’s top institution;
  • Economy. This measures not only the quality of a country’s economic environment for its higher education institutions, but also whether economic prosperity translates into performance.

While the United States sets the benchmark for all four criteria, the equal weighting each criterion is given means that there is no strong correlation between performance in any one metric and overall placing. The Netherlands’ best score came in theSystem metric, in which it ranks 5th worldwide.

John O’Leary, Editor of the Times Education Guide and member of QS’s Executive Board, said “Assessing whole systems is not just about the top universities – if it were, Singapore would be much higher than it is and some European countries would be lower. The advantage of this ranking is that it looks at the quality and accessibility of higher education as a whole.”

These rankings are the latest example of QS using the vast amounts of data collected by their research department, the QS Intelligence Unit, to inform higher education analyses. The myriad other ways in which data is transforming the sector will be the subject of the inaugural EduDataSummit Conference, to be held in London between the 8th-10th June. For more information, visit http://www.edudatasummit.com/.

View the full QS Higher Education System Strength rankings here.


Notes for Editors:

For interviews with the report authors, please contact:

Simona Bizzozero
Head of PR
+44 (0) 7880620856