By Henry Tyohemba
Nigerian Universities have, over the years, been performing dismally in the global ranking of world universities, due to poor funding, incessant strikes by university lecturers, among many other ills.
Despite efforts by the government to bring Nigerian universities to the fore Nigerian universities, a lot still remains to be done as none of the institutions is ranked among the global best universities.
According to the World Ranking Review (WENR), out of about four selected different rankings across the world, such as the CNT Leiden ranking, Shanghai Jiao Tong academic ranking, QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) world university ranking, and Times Higher Education World University ranking, universities from the USA, UK, and Europe generally dominate the list of the different rankings.
For instance, the QS 2021 ranking mostly features Harvard, Oxford, MIT, Cal Tech, Cambridge, ETH Zurich, Imperial College, UCL, and the University of Chicago as the top ten highest-ranking universities in the world.
This is very similar to the Time Higher Education ranking for the same period. The University of Ibadan tops the list for Nigeria universities, ranking 401- 500th on the Time Higher Education 2022 table. Other Nigeria universities that made it to the top 1000 on the 2022 table are the University of Lagos 501- 600 and Covenant University Otta 601 – 608.
In the 2021 table, the Lagos state University Ojo was ranked 501-600 2nd to the University of Ibadan.
To strengthen Nigerian universities to compete globally, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) recently undertook to support beneficiary institutions to provide them with the relevant skills to operate in the 21st century.
TETFund executive secretary, Professor Suleiman Bogoro, who spoke at a workshop for public universities recently in Abuja, identified some of the problems hindering the progress and performance of Nigerian universities in the global ranking of world universities in Nigeria.
He listed the factors to include: poor investment by some tiers of government in the development of universities, low investment in research in public universities, low performance on international linkages and collaborations, loss in quality of faculty due to Brain drain of lecturers and brilliant students to foreign institutions, amongst others.
The two-day workshop which had Vice-Chancellors from the northern part of Nigeria was titled, ‘Requirement for Strengthening Nigerian Universities for Higher Global Ranking.’
“The workshop is part of a series of programs that the Fund has consciously identified for public tertiary institutions in the country as part of our strategy to reposition the universities as catalysts for national rebirth and development.
“As a developing nation, Nigeria’s education sector is evolving and growing steadily, with several challenges which are not unexpected of an emerging or developing state.
“The nation since independence has continued to witness a huge expansion in education at all levels. Education is a critical ingredient for nation-building and has continued to be a beacon for the sustainable existence of society and has been identified as the panacea for the survival of the human race,” he said.
Bogoro said many of the great nations that we see today as giants were able to attain such heights through education and the quest for knowledge.
“Since the industrial revolution and the advent of the machine, the textile, and the automobile industry in England in the 17th Century, the world has evolved tremendously. Technology appears to have taken center stage in the affairs of mankind and indeed the entire world.
“The result is that innovations have become the order of the day and the world continues to see new machines, new products, and new ways of existence, especially with the advent of the internet, the computer, and the transformations in the telecommunication industry.”
The executive secretary noted that such has remained the basis for the country’s desire to continue to invest in education and learning, particularly at the tertiary level, until it can catch up with the advanced society.
He added that Universities have played a critical role in the progress and development of all advanced nations, saying that through the wider impact of research, universities have transformed the lives of people and nations.
“Research in universities has provided ideas on which future prosperity will be founded. The success of universities internationally, aside from benefits derived through research, that helps create jobs and businesses, they also help nations secure a share of global growth and influence. There can be no denying the fact that universities remain big players in the economies of advanced nations and indeed developing nations too.
“The Nigerian government, over the years, is committed to improving the situation. However, a lot needs to be done to put the nation on a path to growth and progress and there is no better place to begin the process than in repositioning the nation’s tertiary institutions and universities which have not fully served the purpose for which they were established.”
Bogoro, who further said the Fund has over the years invested and disbursed a lot of funding and materials to various tertiary institutions to uplift the standard of the universities to meet with global best practices, insisted that research and development should be given the proper attention they deserve, by the institutionalization of R and D with the hope that we will one day see the establishment of a National Research and Development Foundation (NRDF) for Nigeria.
He reiterated that the broad objectives of the Foundation shall include: “Institutionalization and Mainstreaming of Research and Development in National Development Programmes, moving Nigeria to a knowledge-driven economy, improving Nigeria’s Global Competitiveness Country Ranking, enhancing Global Ranking of Nigeria’s tertiary institutions; and providing the needed structure and support for virile R&D activities in Nigeria through the NRDF.
“Nigerian universities must be repositioned to be competitive and to take the lead in research and innovation to promote the growth of our country and its economy.”
He also charged lecturers to aim to have a Doctorate of Philosophy as an essential requirement for teaching and research, while urging Universities to develop strong democratic Leadership in their administration.
“They must develop collaborative association with industries, foreign universities, linkages, and donor agencies in multiple capacities that increase funding for research, teaching and other essential facilities.”
Also speaking, the executive secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Adamu, assured that ranking in 2022 will be much more Impressive.
He said in order to compete with ancient universities in the world, Nigerian tertiary education needs consistently improved funding while commending the committee for coming up with a unique template for the ranking of Nigerian universities.
LEADERSHIP report that the 2021 Nigeria University system rankings which was released at the two day workshop saw University of Ibadan (UI) as the country’s best with 454.56 points.
The premier university is trailed by Redeemers University (RUN) with 384.96 points; Covenant University (368.11 points); Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso (315.23 points), and Federal University of Technology Akure (264.14 points).