Data from Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) scored universities worldwide based on graduate employability – showing that the University of Cape Town (UCT) has the best employment outcome in South Africa.

Attending university is a big decision for many people, as it often requires a significant investment of time and money. However, while there are several reasons why individuals choose to pursue higher education, the main reason is to increase their chances of finding a well-paid job.

QS is a British company specialising in the analysis of higher education institutions around the world. It said that it appreciates that for many students, a successful career is a primary goal of their university education.

This is the primary motivation for the creation of the Employment Outcomes indicator.

“QS have designed the Employment Outcomes indicator to reflect the ability of institutions to ensure a high level of employability for their graduates while also nurturing future leaders who go on to make an impact in their respective fields,” it said.


This year’s QS World University Rankings include almost 1,500 institutions worldwide. The rankings compare institutions on various criteria, from academic and employer reputation to employment outcomes.

According to QS, the employment outcomes indicator combines two metrics, widely known from their QS Graduate Employability Rankings:

  • Graduate Employment Rate; and
  • Alumni Impact

The employment outcome indicator ranks the institutions based on these metrics and gives the universities a score out of 100.

According to QS, seven South African institutions ranked in the top 1000, with the University of Cape Town (UCT) having the best employment outcome with a score of 92.8.

The University of Witwatersrand (WITS) is second, and the University of Pretoria is third, scoring 89.2 and 56, respectively.

Regarding world rankings, the QS World University Rankings 2023 showed UCT on top as the best university in South Africa, ranking 237. In contrast, the University of Johannesburg (UJ), WITS, and Stellenbosch University ranked 412, 428, and 454, respectively.

The table below shows the employment outcomes score of all seven South African universities evaluated in the top 1000.

QS World RankingUniversityEmployment outcome score
237University of Cape Town92.8
428University of Witwatersrand89.2
591-600University of Pretoria56.0
454Stellenbosch University53.8
801-1000Rhodes University50.0
801-1000University of Kwa-Zulu Natal43.9
412University of Johannesburg38.9


Regarding the evaluation metrics, the Graduate Employment Rate is defined as the percentage of graduates who go on to paid work within 15 months of finishing their degree, said QS.

“We consider any mode of employment (full-time or part-time), even if unknown. We do not consider graduates who are on voluntary or unpaid work, continuing further study, or unavailable for work due to military service, disability, travel, or caring needs,” it added.

The analytics company noted that they source its data from the respective universities and third-party providers, such as Higher Education South Africa (HESA), and calculate the scores based on the difference between each institution’s rate and the country’s average.

The alumni impact indicator shows which institutions are producing impactful graduates in all walks of life, from performing arts to finance, medicine, and politics, said QS.

“To produce this list, we use a combination of over 40 externally published lists, such as the ‘100 most influential Africans’ and our own in-house sourced information. We also look at where the alumnus went to school, which degree they completed and in which subject, and their age,” it added.

The indicators are balanced against student numbers to ensure that larger and smaller institutions are proportionately evaluated.

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