UoN scores higher in global ranking
Posted by Administrator on February 5, 2012
The University of Nairobi (UoN) has opened a big lead ahead of its peers in Kenya in terms of volume and quality of research, according to a new ranking of 12,000 universities worldwide.
The latest study by Spanish research firm Webometrics shows that UoN retained its top position in Kenya, moving up to 14 from 27 in Africa and more than 1,700 places worldwide to stand at 2,452 compared to last January’s ranking.
In contrast to UoN’s performance, all other Kenyan universities ranked below 3,000 worldwide, meaning that they are lagging behind their global rivals in the adoption of modern research, teaching, and academic publishing methods.
The Webometrics study ranks universities after assessing the volume and quality of online academic research and scholarly activity of 20,300 universities around the world.
The low ranking of Kenyan universities compromises competitiveness of Kenyan graduates in the global labour market. It also means a lower prestige for the local institutions on the international stage, slowing down scholarly partnerships and funding from the top league universities and donors.
“There is enormous attention given to every league table that is published as well as its quality ranking. And they are taken seriously by students, government and especially by the media,” said Ms Ellen Hazelkorn, the main author of a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which sought to establish the influence of university ranking.
Though the choice of a university in Kenya is largely affected by cost considerations, prospective local and international students from wealthy families have started paying attention to the global ranking.
Webometrics says its goal is to encourage greater adoption of online publications and information sharing.
“The web presence and visibility are probably the best proxies for describing the overall performance of the universities in the 21st century, and possibly they are also the only ones able to classify all of them in a confident way,” Webometrics said in a statement.
Strathmore University came second to UoN, dropping to 54 from 38 in Africa, with a global standing at 3,051. Egerton University is third and is ranked 60 among the top 100 universities in Africa and 3,449 worldwide. Kenyatta University is fourth in Kenya, dropping to 61 from 51 in Africa with a global ranking of 3,522.
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology is fifth, climbing up to 80 from 89 in Africa and 5,315 globally. African Virtual University, which is headquartered in Kenya, is sixth after breaking into Africa’s top 100 list for the first time at 82, standing at 5,390 worldwide.
Kenyan universities have in the past two years gone big on physical expansions, opening several constituent colleges without a commensurate spend on academic staffing and learning resources such as libraries.
The universities are yet to offer local degrees on a pure online platform, citing high initial costs and a deep-seated culture of classroom teaching. Funding for research has also been constrained at a time when admissions have expanded rapidly.
The low uptake of modern technologies among most African countries has seen universities in the more developed world dominate all rankings as they improve their research and teaching methods, including use of the Internet.
South African universities, for instance, took up the top five spots in the top 100 Africa ranking, led by University of Cap Town, Stellenbosch University, and University of Witwatersrand.
Globally, Harvard knocked off Massachusetts Institute of Technology from the pole position, leading a pack of 15 US universities that dominated the ranking.
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