The latest Academic Ranking of World Universities 2017 places five South African tertiary institutions in the top 500‚ with the University of Johannesburg (UJ) registering its first placing.
With a score in the 201-300 band‚ the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) leads the way.
The University of Cape Town (UCT) (301-400) is second best of the South African universities followed by Stellenbosch‚ UJ and University of KwaZulu-Natal (401-500).
Institutions within the same rank range were listed alphabetically in the report‚ released this week by the Shanghai Ranking Consultancy.
UJ was overjoyed by its debut entry into the ranking.
Prof Ihron Rensburg‚ principal and vice-chancellor of UJ‚ said in a statement on Wednesday: "Alongside the university’s QS Top 100 Under 50 Universities Ranking‚ this Shanghai Ranking result is received with great joy and celebration‚ as we continue to forge ahead and scale new heights.
"This is a tremendous accomplishment and recognition for UJ‚ and it has been accomplished on our own terms of substantial access and success for the poorest in our nation‚ significant transformation of our academic community‚ alongside the active pursuit of global teaching and research excellence."
UJ said the Academic Ranking of World Universities was "the most prestigious global ranking system in the world which uses only externally accessed‚ objective measures in its assessment of university performance. It is a ranking system that is heavily focused on research quality and impact."
The university said it had "adopted a vigorous transformation agenda since its establishment in 2005‚ in order for staff and students to appropriately reflect the national and regional demographics and is recording good progress in this respect".
UJ said that since 2006 it had grown its black academic staff complement from 160 to 495.
Citing improved access to the university for SA’s poorest communities‚ UJ said its first-year undergraduate enrolment from Quintile 1 and 2 schools had grown from 8% in 2016 to 31% in 2017.
The ranking placed the University of Pretoria in the 501-600 ranking band‚ followed by North-West University in the 601-700 band and the University of SA (Unisa) in the 701-800 band.
Harvard University took top spot.
The full ranking can be viewed here: Academic Ranking of World Universities 2017