UP Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 

University Profile

The University of Pretoria (UP) is one of Africa's top universities and is situated in the heart of South Africa's capital city. UP is a leading research-intensive university and produces socially impactful research to find solutions for the world's most pressing issues. We see ourselves as an integral part of society, focusing on developing people and creating knowledge to meet current and future societal needs. We fulfill this purpose through the core functions of research, teaching and learning, and engagement. 

In serving society, we firmly believe that our success and the difference we make are not only measured by what we have already achieved. It must also consider how the actions we take today impact the future economic growth, social development, and environmental protection of South Africa and the continent. 

Teaching and Learning

The culture of excellent teaching is firmly entrenched at UP across all fields of study. Our committed academics have multiple approaches to teaching to ensure that students with a variety of learning strengths succeed. 

Our educational approach has a strong focus on inclusivity and equitable access to education, but ultimately on equity of outcomes. Read more about our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and degrees. 


UP has an established reputation for research quality and excellence. Its research strategy focuses on societal challenges, particularly the challenges faced by African and developing regions in the global south. Whether the frameworks are global, regional, or national in scope, the message is clear: UP investigates, discovers, and innovates through research that matters. We provide a broad continuum of achievements and activity related to research and postgraduate education at UP on the following pages:

  • Research Overview - We present here UP's research achievements, including the increase in research publications, a trend that has continued over the past five years, and since the start of the implementation of the University's long-term Strategic Plan, UP 2025. Our research achievements are also illustrated in our regional and international standing, and in the growing importance of networks and multi-stakeholder partnerships which drive research impact. 

  • UP Leaders in Research - The University of Pretoria recognizes that it is through the sustained individual and collective actions of our researchers that we are in a position to fulfill our role and strengthen our identity as one of the leading research-intensive university in Africa. We take pride in profiling here, firstly our rated scientists: the A-rated scientists and all who have received a National Research Foundation (NRF) rating. We also profile the University's exceptional academic achievers: each year we celebrate academics and researchers who are recognized for their contribution to the University's research, supervisory, and teaching excellence. 

  • Research Focus Areas - At the heart of UP's research strategy is the commitment to pursue "research that matters", i.e. research that addresses complex societal challenges and, in particular, the challenges that are faced by developing regions in the world. Such issues include the environment, climate change, food security, poverty alleviation, health, education, and evidence-based policies for development. 

  • International Partnerships - In line with the recognized trend towards globalization, UP continues to enhance its international presence by cultivating, sustaining, and expanding strategic international partnerships. Also, recently, UP has been invited to join the prestigious Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), a leading global higher education network of 22 leading comprehensive research universities that stretches across six continents. This makes UP one of only two member-universities from South Africa and only the fourth on the African continent. 

  • Research Matters - Highlights some of the UP's most impactful and innovative research that addresses some of our society's most pressing concerns to transform lives and communities. We are rated as the number one university in South Africa for research outputs. Our vision is to be a leading research-intensive university in Africa recognized internationally for its quality, relevance, and impact. 

  • E-Magazine - The University of Pretoria is one of the largest producers of inter-, multi-, and transdisciplinary research in South Africa. In order to highlight a range of our research findings, showing our impact on our society and ability to transform lives and communities, recently UP published the first edition of the new research e-magazine, where we highlight our impactful research and solutions. This edition shows us how the research that we do on sustainability could be our present to the future. 

Strategic Goals

The goals are part of the University's Strategic Plan - 2025, which considers, among other things, strengthening the interface with, and contribution to society for social and economic upliftment; partnering and collaborating at multiple levels to enhance impact; and strengthening focus on sustainable development. 

Our strategic goals for the five-year period 2017-2021 are to:

  • Enhance access and successful student learning

  • Strengthen the University's research and international profile

  • Foster and sustain a transformed, inclusive and equitable University community 

  • Optimize resources and enhance institutional sustainability 

  • Strengthen the University's social responsiveness and impact on society 

These strategic goals guided UP during the turbulence of 2020, and we continued to make a significant contribution to society. Interruptions to the normal academic schedule did not prevent our students and staff from galvanizing efforts to combat the effects of COVID-19.

Our Commitment To The Sustainable Development Goals

UP's strategic intent firmly places the University in the sustainable development arena in a way that is congruent with South Africa's National Development Plan, the African Union Agenda 2063, and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a COVID-19 and post-COVID world. The UP's 2019 Sustainable Development Report shows our progress toward integrating sustainability into all parts of our institution. It is the first such report produced by UP and involved extensive engagement and co-design with thought leaders across the University. The report is an essential part of our quest to strengthen collaboration and partnerships. UP are committed to contributing towards the SDGs through our teaching, research, and operations. 

Following our overarching UP 2019 Following our overarching UP 2019 Sustainable Development Report, the report on "Our contributions to achieving the The University of Pretoria's 2020 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Progress Report", forms part of an emerging suite of sustainability-related reports published by the university. It's publication is a reflection of our growing maturity in, and commitment to sustainable development. In this report, we demonstrate the clear alignment between our University’s intent, and the aspirations articulated in the SDGs. Our reimagined future for the University of Pretoria supports and begins to give expression to a reimagined world. Beyond alignment, we continue to reflect deeply on what the SDGs mean in our particular contexts. This is critical to internalising and embedding their philosophies into the fabric of our institution. To this end, in this report we have organised the SDGs into clusters, helping us to make sense of them in relation to who we are, and to also continue giving effect to our University agenda of driving a transdisciplinary, integrated and collaborative approach. We have used the central lens of our humanity – on being human, reaching our human potential, and using that potential to continuously improve our human existence – to start framing the SDGS. We also recognise that there are clear planetary boundaries and interrelationships between our social and economic development, and the sustainability of our planet. Finally, we recognise that our human condition is in co-existence with other natural systems and forms of life.

The South African SDG Hub, a national facility hosted by the University of Pretoria and supported by the Department of Science and Innovation, supports the implementation of the SDGs by enabling access to relevant, useful, and reliable knowledge. 

Professor Willem Fourie, the coordinator of the SDG Hub: "Our main aim is to connect policymakers with the best South African research on the SDGs. We do this by collecting and disseminating open-access South African research on the SDGs through an open-access platform. We also provide policy advice, host SDG public lectures, and publish SDG briefing notes. We’re particularly proud of hosting the Master’s in Development Practice (MDP), a well-regarded interdisciplinary Master’s degree on the leadership capacities needed to implement the SDGs, delivered in collaboration with the Global Association of Master's in Development Practice. Since 2019, close to 40 students have completed the MDP. We also released a briefing note highlighting how the SDGs can be aligned with the NDP's development cycle. Also, the University of Pretoria is committed to using its research and deep pools of knowledge and skills to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The University of Pretoria firmly believes in using its knowledge, resources, and skills to have an empowering effect on communities while teaching its students how to apply their academic knowledge in real-world situations (click here to read more).  

Also, the United Nations (UN) identified the University of Pretoria (UP) as a leader in driving research that advances food security and improves nutrition. UP was accepted as the host of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) Hub for SDG2 to on ending hunger, achieving food security, and improving nutrition. Along with 16 other University, UP has been selected to promote and showcase research that is aligned with advancing the SDGs. The Hub, hosted at the Institute for Food, Nutrition ad Well-being, shares advances in technologies, research, and science that can help countries make faster progress on SDG2. 

2022 Impact Rankings 

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