Thursday, April 18, 2024

Africa’s top 20 universities based on UN’s SDGs and social impact

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

The 2020 edition of the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings has been published revealing the top universities around the world.

The rankings measure actions taken by universities to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to promote social and economic wellbeing around the world.

The rankings were carried out to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons across three broad areas; research, outreach and stewardship.

This is the second edition which includes 766 universities from 85 countries.

The list is dominated New Zealand’s University of Auckland while three Australian Universities completed the top four: University of Sydney, Western Sydney University and La Trobe University.

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Japan is the most represented nation in the table with 63 institutions followed by Russia with 47 and Turkey with 37.

Situation in Africa

In Africa, Egyptian institutions dominated the top 20 universities ranked and most of the ranked institutions are from North Africa.

Ghana and Nigeria each had two institutions also featuring in the top 20 ranked universities in Africa.

South Africa, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia also had institutions ranking in the top 20 in Africa.

Here are the top 20 ranked institutions from Africa in the Time Higher Education University Impact Rankings for 2020.


  1. University of Johannesburg (Global rank 75)

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is an Afropolitan international university with an identity of inclusion, a university that is transforming lives and diversifying professions. A proudly South African university, rooted in the vibrant and multicultural city of Johannesburg, reflecting the city’s energy and embracing its diversity with equal passion.

  1. Alexandria University (Global rank top 200)

Established in 1938, Alexandria University in Egypt was originally known as Farouk University and operated as a satellite body of Fuad University (which would later become Cairo University). Alexandria University became an independent institution in 1942 and renamed following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.

  1. Benha University (Global rank top 200)

Benha University is a public university in the northern Egyptian city of Benha (also spelled Banha). The institution was founded in 1976 as a branch of Zagazig University, but became an independent entity in 2005. Benha University now has over 100,000 undergraduate and over 26,000 postgraduate students enrolled, with an academic staff numbering 5,000.

  1. University of Pretoria (Global rank top 200)

As a multi-faculty, research-intensive university, the University of Pretoria (UP) stands among the top universities in South Africa for research output and impact, and produces the highest number of graduates in South Africa annually. With campuses in Pretoria, it surrounds, and in the country’s economic hub, Johannesburg, UP is conveniently situated within close proximity to government departments, foreign missions and major research agencies.

  1. University of Ibadan (Global rank top 300)

Founded in 1932, the University of Ibadan (UI) was the first university to be established in Nigeria. Originally an affiliated College of the University of London, it was granted full independent status in 1962. UI’s Postgraduate School is the largest in Africa, with its undergraduate and postgraduate student population split 50/50. Around a third of all students live in university provided halls of residence – modern facilities that come equipped with gyms, cafes and common rooms.

  1. Ibn Tofaïl University (Global rank top 300)

Established in 1989, the Université Ibn Tofail (Ibn Tofaïl University) is a non-profit public higher education institution located in the urban setting of the small city of Kénitra, Rabat-Sale-Kenitra. One of 14 public universities in Morocco established in 1989, Ibn Tofaïl University has 33,263 undergraduate and graduate students, as well as 397 full-time professors.

  1. Suez Canal University (Global rank top 300)

Established in 1976, Suez Canal University is an Egyptian higher education institution located near Ismailia on the west bank of the Suez Canal. When courses first began in 1977 there were just six faculties: the faculty of science, the faculty of agriculture, the faculty of commerce, the faculty of engineering, the faculty of technology and the faculty of education. Today there are more than 20 faculties, divided between different branches of Suez Canal University in Ismailia, Suez, Port Said and El-Arish.

  1. University of the Western Cape (Global rank top 300)

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) is a public university located just outside Cape Town, South Africa. UWC has a remarkable history. During the apartheid era of South Africa its staff and students took a brave stand, gaining independence and overturning segregation. The university was founded in 1959 as a college for black students, with the aim of training teachers and civil servants for leadership of a separate black community. However, the university was primarily led by white staff and had a white rector.

  1. Ashesi University (Global rank top 400)

Ashesi University is a private not-for-profit university located in Ghana in West Africa. The university was founded by Patrick Awuah, a Ghanian who studied and worked in the US for over 15 years. After attending Swarthmore College and working at Microsoft Corporation, he enrolled at University of California, Berkeley’s Hass School of Business to learn how to develop a university in Africa. The university first opened its doors in 2002 with a class of 30 students. It became a fully independent private institution in 2018. The university is committed to staying green is many different ways. The campus is 13 per cent solar-powered and has implemented a biodigester system which reduces the volume of waste.

  1. Beni-Suef University (Global rank top 400)

Beni-Suef University (BSU) is a co-educational, non-profit public higher education institution, situated on the banks of the River Nile, 120km south of Cairo, Egypt in the large city of Beni Suef. It was established as an independent university in 2005, though it started out in 1975 as the Faculty of Commerce at Cairo University. Accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education in Egypt, BSU has nearly 50,000 students and an admission rate of around 75%. There are various financial aids and scholarships available.

  1. Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST) (Global rank top 400)


  1. Pharos University (Global rank top 400)

Pharos is the first private university to open in Alexandria. It was opened by presidential decree in 2006 to offer an alternative destination for those wishing to study in Egypt’s second-largest city. The university has 11 faculties: engineering; dentistry; pharmacy and drugs manufacturing; languages and translation; business administration and financial sciences; legal studies and international relations; tourism and hotel management; applied medical science; mass communication; physical therapy; and arts and design.

  1. University of Tunis El Manar (Global rank top 400)

University of Tunis El Manar (UTM), founded in 2000, offers a wide range of degrees in law, literature, environmental sciences, health sciences, medicine, economics, engineering and technology, sciences, humanities, IT, social sciences. It is one of the best universities in Tunisia. Students can take part in swimming, tennis, dance, aerobics, basketball and football on campus. UTM is located in Tunis – the Tunisia’s capital city with the highest concentration of students, given it hosts six universities.

  1. Université 8 Mai 1945 Guelma (Global rank top 600)

Guelma is the capital city of the Guelma Province in the north-east of Algeria,40 miles inland from the Mediterranean coast. It was one of the centres of the colonial era massacre, widely regarded as the starting point of the Algerian Independence movement, from whose date the university takes its name. Université 8 Mai 1945 Guelma was founded as a national institute in 1986, it became a University Centre in 1992 and achieved full university status in 2001 with three faculties.

  1. Ain Shams University (Global rank top 600)

Ain Shams University, founded in 1950, is a public university in Cairo, Egypt. Originally called ‘Ibrahim Pasha’s University’, it was the third higher education institution to be founded in Egypt and was built on the site of a former royal palace – the Zaafarana Palace – so named because the area surrounding it was famous for saffron plantations (‘zaafaran’, in Arabic). Today, the university is organised across seven separate campuses, all located in the Greater Cairo area, and it also comprises 15 faculties along with several research institutions. There are living facilities for students provided on campus as well as sports and recreational facilities.

  1. Assiut University (Global rank top 600)

Set up in 1957, Assiut University was Upper Egypt’s first university and is located approximately 375km south of Cairo. It is one of Egypt’s largest universities. Comprising 16 faculties and three institutes. Bachelor’s degrees, distance learning, master’s degrees, PhDs and associate degrees are taught in Arabic, English, French or German. It has two campuses, one near Assiut and another near the New Valley. On campus facilities include a fitness centre, library and health centre for students.

  1. Aswan University (Global rank top 600)

Located in the Egyptian market city of Aswan, Aswan University first opened its doors as a branch of Assuit University in 1976. After becoming a part of the new South Valley University in 1995, Aswan University was established as an independent institution in its own right in 2012. The institution is dedicated to providing teaching in a wide range of subjects, including education, social work, engineering, agriculture and archaeology among many others. To this end, the university plays host to a wide range of high-quality facilities.

  1. University of Béjaïa (Global rank top 600)

Founded in 1983 with 205 students, the Universite Abderrahmane Mira or University of Béjaïa, claims to be among the fastest-growing universities in the world. While it took this Algerian institution until 1992 to attain the status of a university centre, and 1998 before becoming a university, within less than 30 years it has more than 40,000 students. Named after a native of the Béjaïa province who died in 1959 as one of the heroes of Algeria’s war of independence.

  1. Covenant University (Global rank top 600)

Covenant University is a private Pentecostal Christian University, which has been operating with official status since 2002 in Ota, Nigeria. Covenant University is one of the leading universities in Africa found on Christian Mission Ethos. Born and driven by a vision to raise a new generation of leaders and to reinstate the dignity of the black race, the University is committed to remain at the cutting-edge of learning that is based on enlightening the Total Man. Covenant University has had a rapid rise in reputation in the decade and a half it has been operating. The Nigerian Universities Commission named it the best private university in Nigeria in its 2018 rankings and the 6th best university overall.

  1. University of Ghana (Global rank top 600)

Founded in 1948 as ‘University College of the Gold Coast’ – an affiliated college of the University of London – the University of Ghana is now the oldest and largest of Ghana’s 10 public universities. Granted degree-awarding status in 1961, the university’s stated mission is to ‘create an enabling environment that makes University of Ghana increasingly relevant to national and global development through cutting-edge research as well as high quality teaching and learning.’




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