TITLE: NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES AND WORLD RANKING: ISSUES, STRATEGIES AND FORWARD PLANNING
PRESENTER: PROFESSOR PETER OKEBUKOLA
In his opening remarks, the speaker emphasized the theme of the conference, which is centered on evaluating the performance and activities of the various Universities in Nigeria since the last AVCNU meeting. As such, the paper is directed at planning and designing a strategy for identifying and complementing the value of government and the Nigerian Universities with the view to accelerating improved and sustainable performance on global issues.
Professor Okebukola started by questioning the level of progress, if any, that has been made by Nigerian Universities since AVCNU meeting. He noted that the report, on an overall scale, is one that is remarkable. To this end, he observed the following:
1. The number of Universities in Nigeria has increased by 12.5%, that is, from 104 – 117 Universities.
2. The number of programs with full accreditation status has increased from 779 in 2010 to 793.
3. University calendar has remained largely stable.
4. Graduate output has increased by 6%.
5. Salaries of university staff has improved.
This progress notwithstanding, he noted that “quality improvement” has proceeded at a low pace. Thus, the thrust of his presentation was on how the quality of the academic standards could be improved in all Nigerian Universities.
RANKING (Evaluation and trends)
To capture the aim of the paper, the speaker critically evaluated the activities of the Nigerian Universities with the current ranking scale. He noted that there had been a slight improvement on the rationale, criteria and benchmarks for ranking all over the world. He noted that there had been claims about the unfair and utopic ranking mechanism, which had been adopted as the present benchmark for all universities worldwide. This claim, in his opinion, was rather farfetched. He noted that there was now a global ranking mechanism that had been put in place to capture all the basic indices that were pertinent in ranking the various institutions.
The African Quality Rating Mechanism (AQRM)
The goal of the AQRM is geared towards the re-internalization of higher education programs in Africa. This is mainly through innovative forms of collaboration and ensuring that the quality of higher education is systematically improved against common agreed benchmarks of excellence. The AQRM was also instituted to ensure that the performance of Higher Education Institution can be compared against a set of criterion that takes into account the unique context and challenges of Higher Education delivery on the continent.
The major global ranking schemes he mentioned include:
1. The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).
2. The Times Higher Education (THE).
3. Webometrics Ranking of World Universities.
While emphasizing on the first scheme of ranking (ARWU), he noted that the highest scoring institution is assigned a score of 100 and other institutions are calculated as a percentage of the top score. The criteria highlighted by the scheme include:
• Quality of education 10%
• Quality of faculty 40%
• Research output 40%
• Per capita performance 10%
It was on the basis of these benchmarks and criteria that Harvard University topped the chart of the top ten universities in the world. Others on this chart include University of California Berkeley, Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Situation analysis and strategies for scoring high on quality of education
Under this heading, the speaker noted that the quality of education in ARWU is measured by the total number of Alumni of the institution winning Nobel Prizes and Field Medals. Further on strategies for scoring high on quality of education, he observed that tutelage under Nobel Prize winners is a major strategy. Other strategies include admitting the best students from secondary school systems.
On earning high score on quality of faculty
He noted that for staff of institutions, winning Nobel Prizes is pertinent. The need for highly cited researches in 21 broad subject categories is also important.
The presenter further outlined strategies for acquiring Nobel Prizes/awards. Top on this list include:
1. Encouraging scholars in Nigerian Universities to target global problems in their research.
2. Encouraging networking with researchers outside Nigeria.
3. Fostering collaboration with American countries among other things.
On strategies for earning high scores for research outputs
The speaker encouraged various universities to communicate lists of journals indexed in the database to all staff of the university; reward staff who publish in journals indexed in science citations and social science citation indexes; and training of faculty by editors of high impact journals, among others.
TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION (THE)
Under the THE on world rating of universities, the speaker presented the following criteria used for ranking:
4. Industry income and
5. International mix.
On strategies for earning high scores for teaching, he noted that there was need to keep teacher/student ratio in check; increase proportion of post graduate students; increase efficiency of post graduate schools e.t.c.
Furthermore on the THE, the speaker spoke about the strategies for earning high scores in research, which include citations, industry income and international mix of staff and students.
ON WEBOMETRIC RANKING
On the above subject, some of the Nigerian universities were noted to have done fairly well, with University of Ilorin topping the chart. He further outlined the strategies for improving performance on the Webometric ranking. Some of the strategies include the need to use outstanding institutional domains (URL Names), interlinking and so on.
In his closing remarks, the speaker volunteered to provide a blue print of an action plan for Nigerian Universities that will, in the next ten years, place at least five Nigerian Universities on the top ranking of the Webometric scheme.
Some of the issues and questions raised include
1. Where there are multiple authors for an article submitted for promotion, which of the authors should get the most credit?
2. The issue about the sanctity of external assessors for professorial positions was raised.
3. The need to evaluate the quota system and criteria for admission by JAMB was also raised.
Compiled by Mr. Wogu Power, Mr. Lanre Amodu, Mr.Tunji Oyedepo, Abah Ajuma and Kemabonta Tam Alex.