The University of Cape Town (UCT) and Stellenbosch University (US) attract the smartest students in South Africa.
This is one of the findings in the academic paper Higher Education Access and Outcomes for the 2008 National Matric Cohort.
The research used data that combined matric examinations data from 2008 to 2013 with data from all South African universities from 2009 to 2014.
Selection into specific universities among the 2008 matric cohort was nonrandom. This means that not all universities had the same quality of students.
“The extent of the differences in matric average performance across universities is remarkable,” the researchers said.
The learners from the 2008 matric cohort who enrolled at UCT or US in 2009, for example, had average matric achievement levels of around 75%.
Learners from the same cohort who enrolled at the University of Zululand (UZ), Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Central University of Technology (CUT), and Vaal University of Technology (VUT) achieved closer to 55% in matric.
“Insofar as matric average achievement is positively related to the likelihood of university completion, the differences outlined above imply that universities do not always compete on equal footing.”