PRETORIA– The Academic Ranking of World Universities has recorded five South African universities in ITS 2017 top 500 global rankings, despite many challenges which have dogged the higher education sector in this country over the past few years.

The five universities are the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch UniversityS the University of Johannesburg and the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Also ranked among the top 800 universities in the world are the University of Pretoria, North West University and University of South Africa.

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said here Monday that the latest Academic Ranking of World Universities 2017 should be celebrated as a significant national achievement.

Bearing in mind that the Academic Ranking of World Universities is one of the most respected global ranking systems, this strong performance and continuing solid progress by our institutions of higher education is without doubt a cause for national celebration. This is more so given the many challenges that the higher education sector continues to grapple with, many of them inherited from the pre-democracy era, including those related to access, transformation and funding, he added.

Nzimande said it was also noteworthy that the high ranking of South Africa’s public universities was happening as the latest statistics showed that more than two-thirds of students studying at the country’s institutions of higher learning are Black Africans.

It is very pleasing that despite our country’s difficult past, as well as the many challenges that continue to affect South Africa’s higher education sector, commendable transformation is also taking place at our institutions of higher learning, with more students from disadvantaged backgrounds now accessing higher education, he said.