The University is an important national role player in terms of research and has close ties with a number of universities and industries on the continent and around the world. More than 74 academics at the UFS are rated by the National Research Foundation (NRF), indicating the quality and excellence of its research portfolio.
The University recently announced the formation of 6 Strategic Academic Clusters. These are areas that the University excels in already or plans to establish areas of expertise. They are Water Management in Water-Scarce Areas, New Frontiers in Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development, Social Transformation in Diverse Societies, Ecologically Sound Value Chains for Agricultural Commodities, Materials and Nanosciences, and Advanced Biomolecular Research.