Don thinks Nigerian Universities lack enabling environment for Academic excellence - aksu360

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Don thinks Nigerian Universities lack enabling environment for Academic excellence

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The immediate past Secretary-General, Association of African Universities and the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof Olugbemiro Jegede has bared his mind on the recently released world University ranking and also spoke on why Nigerian universities are poorly rated and the need to restructure the tertiary education system to align it with current trends.


The Centre for World University Rankings recently released its report and only the University of Ibadan (UI), the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and Covenant University, Ota, made the list of the first 2000. Why are Nigerian universities poorly rated?

Prof Olugbemiro Jegede

When you consider the current results of the ranking of Nigerian universities at the backdrop of what we had about five 5 ago, we have made significant progress from no single Nigerian university in the top 5000 universities of the world to two (the University of Ibadan ranked 1233 and the University of Nigeria Nsukka ranked 1677 in the world. Covenant University was ranked 1704, making it the 3rd Nigerian university to be amongst the top 2000 in the world. These three universities have made us proud and should be congratulated and commended.

 

However, there is still a long way to go. In fact, we have yet to scratch the surface, as it were. Nigerian universities are poorly rated for a variety of reasons. First, many academics and highly placed individuals who intelligently study trends in educational development believe that the league table of universities is not scientific and therefore not truly objective. There are at least 10 different ranking systems, including Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, with differing criteria. The most popular is the Ranking Web or Webometrics, which uses the criteria of how visible a university is on the web by its own web domain, sub-pages, rich files, and scholarly articles, among others.

 

By simple deduction, it goes without saying that any university that has not got a web presence or the web site is not that richly populated will struggle with the ranking. Conversely, if your university puts in lots of materials on the web, even if they are mostly junks, they will be highly rated and picked up by the radar of global ranking.

 

Secondly, the age of the institution has a lot to do with the rank placement. The older a university is, the better the chances of being ranked highly. The recent and previous results of the ranking of our universities testify to this.  For 2020, our first generation universities came very close to the 2000 ranked universities. As published, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ife, was ranked 2077, University of Lagos (UNILAG) was ranked 2094 and Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) was ranked 2216 in the world.

 

In Africa, the older Universities in South Africa, Egypt and Tunisia are right at the top. They would have had so much invested in them and they would have, over the years, gone through a lot of developmental phases. 


The third factor is the capacity and capability of the university as a whole and of the productivity of individual academic staff. University of Ibadan, as the oldest university in Nigeria, has got the largest number of professors and senior academic staff who have distinguished themselves in many areas. The number of full professors at the university would outnumber the total number of academic staff in the young and struggling universities combined. Fourth, the publication outputs as shown in the number of articles published in world rated academic journals in the older universities would evidently outweigh what you have even in four to five younger universities combined. In fact, many young universities hardly spend resources on research, let alone have anything to publish.

 

Fifth, although more fund in and of itself will not solve the problems of the Nigerian tertiary education system, the availability of fund, quality of and relevant infrastructure play a lot of facilitating role in making an institution a good and productive one.  Most of our universities do not have these.

 

The older universities are struggling under the weight of too many unnecessary development baggages that is hardly related to academic work and expected output. For example, we live in a tertiary education system where non-academic staff that are supposed to be supporting academic staff, in some universities, triple the population of academics.


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