What are the best Universities in Africa? The African Media tries to answer this question by publishing the 2020 top 10 Best Universities in Africa. This article was made possible making reference to the world QS University Rankings.

QS Quacquarelli Symonds is the world’s leading provider of services, insight and analytics to the global higher education sector, whose mission is to enable motivated people anywhere in the world to fulfil their potential through educational achievement, international mobility, and career development.  

Using the QS university ranking metrics we countdown the 2020 top 10 Best Universities in Africa. We rank this using the World QS Rank number.

2020 Top 10 Best Universities in Africa

10. Assiut University Egypt QS Rank 801-1000

9. Alexandria University Egypt (QS Rank 801-1000)

Alexandria University is a public university in Alexandria, Egypt. It was established in 1938 as a satellite of Fouad University (the name of which was later changed to Cairo University), becoming an independent entity in 1942.

It was known as Farouk University until the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 when its name was changed to the University of Alexandria. Taha Hussein was the founding rector of Alexandria University. It is now the second largest university in Egypt and has many affiliations to various universities for ongoing research.

Alexandria University is one of the largest universities in Egypt, and the third university established after Cairo University and the American University in Cairo. Alexandria University has 21 faculties and 3 institutes that teach different types of social, medical, engineering, mathematics and other science.

The university had other branches in Egypt outside Alexandria in Damanhour and Matrouh which later became two independent universities. Other branches have been set up outside Egypt in Juba, South Sudan, and in N’Djamena, the capital of the Republic of Chad.

8. Ain Shams University Egypt (QS Rank = 801-1000)

Ain Shams University is an institute of higher education located in Cairo, Egypt. Founded in 1950, the university provides education at the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels.

Ain Shams University was founded in July 1950, the third-oldest non-sectarian native public Egyptian university (ancient Islamic universities such as Al-Azhar and private institutions such as the American University in Cairo are older), under the name of Ibrahim Pasha’s University. Its site used to be a former royal palace, called the Zafarana Palace. The two earlier universities of this kind are Cairo University (Fuad I university formerly) and Alexandria University (Farouk I university formerly). When it was first established, Ain Shams University had a number of faculties and academic institutes, which were later developed into a university. The university’s academic structure includes 14 faculties, 1 college and 2 high institutes plus 12 centers and special units.

7. University of Pretoria South Africa QS Rank = 551-560)

The University of Pretoria is a multi-campus public research university in Pretoria, the administrative and de facto capital of South Africa.

The university was established in 1908 as the Pretoria campus of the Johannesburg-based Transvaal University College and is the fourth South African institution in continuous operation to be awarded university status.

The university has grown from the original 32 students in a single late Victorian house to approximately 49,000 in 2015. The University was built on 7 suburban campuses on 1,120 hectares (2,800 acres).

6. Cairo University Egypt (QS Rank = 521 -530)

Cairo University, known as the Egyptian University from 1908 to 1940, and King Fuad I University from 1940 to 1952, is Egypt’s premier public university. Its main campus is in Giza, immediately across the Nile from Cairo.

It was founded on 21 December 1908; however, after being housed in various parts of Cairo, its faculties, beginning with the Faculty of Arts, were established on its current main campus in Giza in October 1929.

It is the second oldest institution of higher education in Egypt after Al Azhar University, notwithstanding the pre-existing higher professional schools that later became constituent colleges of the university.

It was founded and funded as the Egyptian University by a committee of private citizens with royal patronage in 1908 and became a state institution under King Fuad I in 1925. In 1940, four years following his death, the University was renamed King Fuad I University in his honor.

It was renamed a second time after the Egyptian revolution of 1952. The University currently enrolls approximately 155,000 students in 20 faculties. It counts three Nobel Laureates among its graduates and is one of the 50 largest institutions of higher education in the world by enrollment.

5. University of Johannesburg South Africa (QS Rank = 501-510)

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is a public university located in Johannesburg, South Africa. The University of Johannesburg came into existence on 1 January 2005 as the result of a merger between the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), the Technikon Witwatersrand (TWR) and the Soweto and East Rand campuses of Vista University.

Prior to the merger, the Daveyton and Soweto campuses of the former Vista University had been incorporated into RAU. As a result of the merger of Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), it is common for alumni to refer to the university as RAU.

The Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UJ is Professor Tshilidzi Marwala. Between 2005 and 2017, UJ’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal was Prof Ihron Lester Rensburg.

The newly emerged institution is one of the largest comprehensive contact universities in South Africa from the 26 public universities that make up the higher education system.

UJ has transformed into a diverse, inclusive, transformational and collegial institution, with a student population of over 50 000, of which more than 3000 are international students from 80 countries.

4. Stellenbosch University South Africa (QS Rank = 427)

Stellenbosch University is a public research university situated in Stellenbosch, a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Stellenbosch is jointly the oldest university in South Africa and the oldest extant university in Sub-Saharan Africa alongside the University of Cape Town which received full university status on the same day in 1918.

Stellenbosch University (abbreviated as SU) designed and manufactured Africa’s first microsatellite, SUNSAT, launched in 1999.

Stellenbosch University was the first African university to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities.

The students of Stellenbosch University are nicknamed “Maties”. The term probably arises from the Afrikaans word “tamatie” (meaning tomato, and referring to the maroon sport uniforms and blazer colour). An alternative theory is that the term comes from the Afrikaans colloquialism maat (meaning “buddy” or “mate”) originally used diminutively (“maatjie”) by the students of the University of Cape Town’s precursor, the South African College.

3. University of Witwatersrand South Africa (QS Rank = 400)

The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, is a multi-campus South African public research university situated in the northern areas of central Johannesburg.

It is more commonly known as Wits University or Wits. The university has its roots in the mining industry, as do Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand in general. Founded in 1896 as the South African School of Mines in Kimberley, it is the third oldest South African university in continuous operation.

The university has an enrolment of 40,259 students as of 2018, of which approximately 20 percent live on campus in the university’s 17 residences. 63 percent of the university’s total enrolment is for undergraduate study, with 35 percent being postgraduate and the remaining 2 percent being Occasional Students.

The 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) places Wits University, with its overall score, as the highest ranked university in Africa. Wits was ranked as the top university in South Africa in the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) in 2016. According to the CWUR rankings, Wits occupies this ranking position since 2014.

2. The American University in Cairo Egypt (QS Rank =395)

Best universities in Africa

The American University in Cairo is an independent, English language, private, research university in Cairo, Egypt. The university offers American-style learning programs at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels, along with a continuing education program.

The AUC student body represents over 50 countries. AUC’s faculty members, adjunct teaching staff and visiting lecturers are internationally diverse and include academics, business professionals, diplomats, journalists, writers and others from the United States, Egypt and other countries.

AUC holds institutional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and from Egypt’s National Authority for Quality Assurance and Assessment of Education.

1. UCT Graduate School of Business South Africa (QS Rank = 198)

The Graduate School of Business (GSB) is the business school of the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa’s oldest university.

The School’s programmes include the Masters in Business Administration (MBA), the Executive MBA, and the Postgraduate Diploma in Management Practice (PgDip) – each targeting a different level of management.

Executive Education at the GSB offers open-enrolment short courses, focusing on a wide range of development requirements. The department also develops short courses and customised programmes for corporate clients.

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