What's the one thing students aspiring to further in higher institutions search for? Your guess is as good as mine.
The endless search for what's best is usually on display. However, I truly think it varies depending on each student although, the common denominator is that most people aim for schools with a good ranking in whatever field they aspire towards. The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) identifies the key indicators for schools aspiring to rank the world's top 1000 universities as:
- Quality of Education, measured by the number of a university's alumni who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals relative to the university's size [25%]
- Alumni Employment, measured by the number of a university's alumni who have held CEO positions at the world's top companies relative to the university's size [25%]
- Quality of Faculty, measured by the number of academics who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals [25%]
- Publications, measured by the number of research papers appearing in reputable journals [5%]
- Influence, measured by the number of research papers appearing in highly-influential journals [5%]
- Citations, measured by the number of highly-cited research papers [5%]
- Broad Impact, measured by the university's h-index [5%]
- Patents, measured by the number of international patent filings [5%]
Based on this criteria, only 10 universities in Africa made it into the 2016 rankings
- University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa 176
- University of Cape Town, South Africa 256
- Stellenbosch University, South Africa 329
- University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 468
- University of Pretoria, South Africa 697
- Makerere University, Uganda 846
- Cairo University, Egypt 771
- Ain Shams University, Egypt 960
- Mansoura University, Egypt 985
- Alexandria University, Egypt 995
Noticeably missing from the top 1000 was Nigeria. Even though we are known as the 'Giant of Africa', it looks like our identity wasn't fully represented in this sector. The decline in academic standards in schools has crept into the confidence level in Nigerian universities and this has given rise to the rate at which students seek educational opportunities overseas even in other African countries.
However, if the Federal Government can take education and innovation seriously, there might be light at the end of the tunnel for us. In order to achieve this, we can use any of these approaches:
Create new universities centred around innovation from ground-up. The capital to be used in this option will definitely be large but, seeing it as an investment worth doing will definitely boost the economy in the near future (taking a cue from what Dubai did with their Tourism sector)
They can consider going through the research and commercialisation of existing universities and building on-going activities into their system. In order for this to work, it will be best to partner with universities which have reinvented themselves in an innovative way.
Partnering with existing national research institutes. Nigeria's first ICT university, Digital Bridge Institute in Nigeria is a typical example of such.
Innovation centres that focus on sectors such as telecommunications, infrastructure, transportation, etc. must have quality research on-going and international partnerships broadening the base of their intellectual capacity.
Be the smartest in the room
Innovation universities could become Nigeria's academic equivalent of its performance in Football at RIO 2016, only that this time we'd be aiming for GOLD.