Research credited for placing Makerere top of university rankings in East Africa

Makerere University has repositioned herself as a research-led university. It’s because of this, according to Ritah Namisango, the institution’s senior publicist, that Makerere University is the only local tertiary institution that made it to the 12th edition of the annual QS World University Rankings.
Makerere is joined by University of Dar-es-Salaam and University of Nairobi as the only East African institutions on the list. All three institutions had an overall score that landed them at position 701.
Three of the best universities in Africa – University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University and University of Witwatersrand are from South Africa.
“Through our partnerships with leading universities, we are constantly at the forefront of conducting cutting-edge research and innovations,” Ms Namisango says.
The rankings, which highlight the world’s top universities in five individual faculty areas: arts and humanities, engineering and technology, life sciences and medicine, natural sciences, and social sciences and management, are done using six performance indicators namely academic reputation (40%), employment reputation (10%), student-to-faculty ratio (20%), citations per faculty (20%), international faculty ratio (5%) and international student ratio (5%).
They are based on web traffic,social media metrics and estimated online consumers.
Since the QS Rankings were first developed in 2004, they have expanded to rank more than 800 universities, with thousands more assessed each year.
The top 400 universities are given individual ranking positions, and the rest are ranked in groups – starting from 401-410, up to 701+.
“We are happy that the QS Ranking provided a comprehensive criteria and corresponding weight for each of them,” Ms Namisango, told Education Focus
But she was quick to assert what QS could have done better.
“Unlike other rankings like Webometrics, this (QS) ranking does not provide a score for each criteria and as such, does not offer a way we can improve our generalized ranking,” Ms Namisango added.
Webometrics, whose biggest parameter visibility (at 50 per cent)onsiders the number of websites linking to the university’s domain, ranks Makerere as 1,215th in the world while Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) 2014 Edition, put the country’s oldest university at seventh on the continent and the 891 in the world.
QS’s ranking of the world’s top universities, that saw Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from USA retain top spot for the fourth time in a row, uses six performance indicators to assess institutions’ global reputation, research impact, staffing levels and international complexion.
MIT first topped the table in 2012 and has remained there ever since, with the ranking having previously been headed by both Harvard (2nd) and Cambridge (3rd) universities.

Criteria
Assessed using data from Scopus, the world’s largest database of research abstracts and citations, this ranking component aims to reflect the influence achieved by each university in the research world, relative to the size of its faculty.
Eighty two countries are represented in the rankings this year, with the largest shares claimed by the US (154 universities), UK (71), Germany (43) and France (41).
A total of 76,798 academics and 44,226 employers contributed to the rankings through the QS global surveys, the largest of their kind and QS analyzed 11.1 million research papers – indexed by Elsevier’s Scopus database. 3,539 institutions were considered for inclusion and 891 ranked.
Ben Sowter, QS head of research says: “These latest results reveal more diversity than ever in the distribution of world-class universities at the highest levels. We’re providing prospective students with the richest picture yet.”
The new citation guidelines have reportedly delivered fairer evaluations for universities with strong profiles in areas with lower research activity, such as arts, humanities and social sciences.
These varsities are traditionally overshadowed by research-intensive universities, and in this survey, QS hope institutions can see excellence more equitably recognised.

Way forward
Namisango reveals her reservations about the equitable recognition but insists it’s also up to the universities to ensure their programmes are visible.
“All these academic activities are a constant source of research findings whose dissemination process we are continuously refining. To further improve this position, the University’s Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT) is coming up with a Research Dissemination Strategy to ensure that these findings reach a wider audience and improve our institutional visibility and inevitably ranking.”
Despite being ranked in the lower tier of the 891 universities, in this survey, for two consecutive years, Makerere, which has 10 colleges, remains the go-to university for most Ugandans students and their counterparts in and around East Africa.
“Makerere strives to continually refine her curricula to meet the needs of the society we exist to serve. Furthermore, through her internationalization agenda, Makerere continues to partner with leading regional and international universities to conduct staff and student exchanges, as well as joint teaching, learning and research activities,” Ms Namisango, who was disappointed that scores for specific critical points weren’t revealed, said.

Top Universities in Africa
171 University of Cape Town South Africa
302 Stellenbosch University South Africa
331 University of the Witwatersrand South Africa
345 The American University in Cairo Egypt
501-550 Cairo University Egypt
501-550 Rhodes University South Africa
501-550 University of Pretoria South Africa
551-600 University of Kwazulu-Natal South Africa
601-650 University of Johannesburg South Africa
701+ Ain Shams University Egypt
701+ Al Azhar University Egypt
701+ Alexandria University Egypt
701+ Makerere University Uganda
701+ North-West University South Africa
701+ University of Dar es Salaam Tanzania
701+ University of Ghana Ghana
701+ University of Nairobi Kenya
701+ University of the Western Cape South Africa

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