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Malawi misses on global university ranking

A recent 2020 World University Ranking list of top 1,000 universities has shown that Malawi’s universities are not among top 1,000 institutions of higher learning in the world.

According to the rankings on the Times Higher Education (THE) World Rankings 2020, apart from the usual South Africa, Egypt, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya are some of the African countries that have made it in the top 1,000.

The rankings were based on 13 calibrated performance indicators that provided a comprehensive and balanced comparisons trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.

“The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020 includes almost 1,400 universities across 92 countries, standing as the largest and most diverse university rankings ever to date.

“The only university ranking to be independently audited by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and trusted worldwide by students, teachers, governments and industry experts, this year’s league table provides great insight into the shifting balance of power in global higher education,” reads part of the overview on the THE website.

Education expert Steve Sharra said, while the country would be proud if it appeared on the list, it is not much of a concern because African universities operate in different economic contexts that make the global rankings not a reliable measure of what is really going on inside our universities.

“The University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and the University of Nairobi in Kenya appear on the list. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time since the THE rankings began in 2004. Previously, it has been South African and Ugandan universities, in our region, that appear there.

“That should give us hope that, in the near future, a Malawian university will appear on that list. There is a growing trend in sharing best practices in higher education and Malawian universities are part of that trend,” he said.

Sharra said the problem with Malawi is funding arguing the rankings put a premium on research funding and research output, which is a major weakness for the country.

“Countries that make a determination to improve their higher education systems are seeing results. For example, Ghana and Nigeria are now on the list as well.

“There is hope for us but hope alone cannot be our strategy. We have to be deliberate in our education planning. This country’s development is tied to the advancement of our education system, particularly higher education,” he said.

When we contacted University of Malawi Pro-Vice Chancellor Alfred Mtenje, he requested for a questionnaire which was not responded to until we went to press.

Efforts to speak to Mzuzu University Vice-Chancellor John Saka and Malawi University of Science and Technology spokesperson James Mphande proved futile as they could not pick up their mobile phones.

This year’s list of the best universities in the world is led by UK university, The University of Oxford, which has held on to the number one spot for the third year in a row.

“Mainland China now provides both of Asia’s top two universities, with Tsinghua and Peking universities finishing at 23rd and 24th place respectively. The country’s universities have continued to expand their influence and presence on the world stage,” reads part of the overview.

THE is the leading provider of higher education data for the world’s research-led institutions.

THE work with individual clients builds on the foundations of World University Rankings, which have been adopted as a geo-political indicator as well as an aid to strategic management of institutions and a crucial factor in the study choices made by millions of students around the world.

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