South Africa’s best universities to study engineering and computer science

An analysis by MyBroadband shows that the University of Johannesburg (UJ) is the best tertiary institution in South Africa for studying computer science, engineering, or technology.

South Africa has a wide range of excellent universities and colleges that offer numerous valuable qualifications in all kinds of fields.

These days, degrees in computer science, engineering, and technology are key to securing many of the most in-demand jobs in locally and abroad.

MyBroadband used the university rankings and scores from three reputed educational ratings organisations — Times Higher Education (THE), SCIMAGO, and the University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP) — to see which institutions had the highest academic reputation.

The specific rankings we used were as follows:

  1. Times Higher Education Engineering (THE-E)
  2. Times Higher Education Computer Science (THE – CS)
  3. SCIMAGO Engineering (SCIMAGO – E)
  4. SCIMAGO Computer Science (SCIMAGO – CS)
  5. University Ranking by Academic Performance Engineering (URAP – E)
  6. University Ranking by Academic Performance Technology (URAP – T)

To qualify for inclusion, a university had to be represented in at least one of the fields — engineering, computer science, or technology — with each organisation.

Eight of South Africa’s biggest universities met this requirement, but other well-known institutions like the Tshwane University of Technology, Rhodes University, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Fort Hare, University of the Free State, and the Durban University of Technology did not.

To determine the best universities for the three fields, we calculated an overall rating based on their rankings or scores on all six ranking systems. The rankings were weighted equally to ensure fairness.

In our previous comparison in January 2024, UJ ranked top in four of the systems and second in the remaining two, making it the best university for three fields overall.

This time around, it placed first on all six ranking systems, more comfortably trumping the former leading universities in these fields — the University of Pretoria and Stellenbosch University.

Before 2024, these two two universities had consistently ranked in the top two in our analyses.

University of Johannesburg. Credit: Editorial credit: Gravettp / Shutterstock.com

As it achieved top marks in all cases, UJ earned an overall score of 100, an impressive improvement over the 77.5 score it achieved in August 2022.

The biggest reason for UJ’s improvement from its earlier ranking in January 2024 is its big jump on the Scimago field rankings for engineering and computer science.

The rankings and scores of the remaining universities were calculated relative to UJ’s score.

The University of Pretoria’s score of 84.58 narrowly edged out Stellenbosch University’s score of 84.33 to claim second place.

Not far behind the top three was another surprise — the University of KwaZulu-Natal besting the University of Cape Town (UCT) with a score of 81.95 compared to 79.64. It previously ranked below UCT, considered one of South Africa’s most prestigious universities.

Wits, Unisa, and NWU rounded off the top eight with scores of 73.99. 66.40, and 58.56%.

It should be noted our analysis did not look at specific programmes in each field — like civil or mechanical engineering — where the picture might look vastly different.

The ranking systems also offer specific performance for some programmes, so it is worthwhile to check them to see if you are interested in a particular subset of engineering or computer science.

Our comparison also did not include private South African universities like Akademia and Stadio, which are not in the rankings, likely due to significantly lower student intake and overall research output.

The table below shows the top universities in South Africa for studying computer science, engineering, and technology.

University Ratings — Computer Science, Engineering, and Technology
University THE-E
Scores
THE-CS
Scores
SCIMAGO – E
Rankings
SCIMAGO – CS
Rankings
URAP – E
Scores
URAP – T
Scores
Overall Score
University of Johannesburg (UJ) 43.8 39.8 1069 915 309.81 308.37 100.00
University of Pretoria (UP) 34.5 33.2 1,673 1,751 306.93 305.91 84.58
Stellenbosch University (SU) 40.5 39.8 1,436 1,255 304.16 304.93 84.33
University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) 37.0 36.0 1,537 509 304.97 303.84 81.95
University of Cape Town (UCT) 37.0 36.0 1,555 1,427 222.76 302.57 79.64
University of Witwatersrand (Wits) 37.0 36.0 2,077 842 245.83 304.1 73.99
University of South Africa (UNISA) 37.0 25.9 2,101 936 209.95 265.32 66.40
North-West University (NWU) 34.5 25.9 1,909 2,235 132.71 208.94 58.56

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South Africa’s best universities to study engineering and computer science