Michelle Obama in Cape Town (3 of 7)
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama stands with former Managing Director of the World Bank Mamphela Ramphele (5th R) and high school students after answering students' questions at the University of Cape TownREUTERS

Two of the top 15 universities in Africa are University of Cape Town and the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, according to new research. But the continent's are still the worst performing emerging market nations, a separate survey has suggested.

A study released by Times Higher Education said eight of the top 15 universities in Africa were South Africa.

However, South Africa was bottom of the World Economic Forum's 2015 report on maths and science education and almost bottom - 139th out of 143 countries - in the overall quality of its education system.

The Times Higher Education report - based on published reviews, research and academic papers - placed Makerere University, Uganda's oldest and largest institution of higher learning, in third place in Africa, in a statement released on 9 July.

In a QS University Rankings study, South Africa did not rank highly among the top 10 institutions when compared with Brics countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Of the 404 emerging nations institutions evaluated, the University of Cape Town came 14th, five places lower than in 2014, and the University of Witwatersrand was 28th. In total, only four universities in South Africa were in the top 50.