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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Our universities must change this status

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The revelation by Times Higher Education World Rankings 2018 that none of the universities in the country has made it into the top 1,000 universities of the world, must be enough to jerk us into action to change this shameful situation.

If we are to tell the truth, the position of Malawi’s universities is not surprising, taking into account myriad problems these institutions—private or public—have. Private universities in the country are, perhaps, the worst, with some operating in log cabins and without proper libraries and qualified staff.

Things are not very different in public universities. Going around, the shock that greets you is that of students scrambling for chairs in lecture rooms—if they are not fighting for a tattered old edition book in a library that is almost dilapidated.

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The problems in our universities, from infrastructure, equipment and curriculum, are just too many and too much for the institutions to make it among top 1,000 universities of the world. Apart from this, our universities, especially public ones, have proven to be unstable institutions that are frequently closed due to various wrangles. All these are serious contributing factors to the failure of Malawi’s universities to compete against the elite.

Top universities are ranked according to the value of their contribution to the academic world. These contributions are in form of research and publications, among others. To achieve these, there is need to have a combination of support from the government as well as dedication of academics. There is no way universities can come up with proper research without necessary financial support.

If we look at the universities that have cleanly beaten us, we will see that they have adequate financial support to do research as well as to have proper infrastructure and up-to-date curricula.

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We would like to build on hope that all is not lost and all we need now is to engage an overdrive gear to change the situation so that, in the next five to 10 years, our universities should be mentioned in the same breath with the elite of the world.

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