Top 30 Universities In Africa For Research Impact

Written by Dana Sanchez

South Africa and Egypt dominate a new list of universities from 10 African countries that feature in a top-30 ranking for having the most impact based on published research.

The list of top 30 universities in Africa for research impact was released at the inaugural Africa Universities Summit, which was held last week at the University of Johannesburg. The main buzz of the event was the unveiling of the African university rankings, Mail&Guardian reported.

Just 30 of Africa’s approximately 2,600 higher education institutions made the list.

There were some surprises on this new list. Several African universities that usually show up high on global rankings are missing from this list, including University of Nigeria and Cairo University,

Other surprises were some lesser-known institutions that show up on this list such as Port Harcourt University, which ranks No. 6, and Minia University (No. 30).

The list was compiled by Times Higher Education, a London-based weekly magazine that reports on news and issues related to higher education around the world. It has become known for publishing the annual World University Rankings. Thomson Reuters collects and analyses the data used to produce the rankings

South African universities show up 12 times in the top 30.

Egypt is the second most-represented country, with six universities in the top 30. Morocco and Tunisia each have three universities on the list.

“The richer, better-funded universities in Cape Town and Johannesburg are more likely to attract and retain the leading scholars,” said Phil Baty, editor of the THE World University Rankings in a BBC interview. “They can offer slightly better terms and conditions and it means they are publishing higher quality work in higher quality academic journals.”

The results on this list are based on the amount of citations for each university’s published works. Methodology for the rankings was based on 13 factors. Times Higher Education combined statistics from it own huge database with the Elsevier’s Scopus database – a system that highlights some of the continent’s top performers based on how often research papers are cited by other academics globally, M&G reports.

Not everyone in Africa will find the metrics appropriate to their mission or their priorities, Times Higher Education said. This ranking is just a starting point for a conversation about African higher education.

Times Higher Education spent the last four-to-five years modifying and refining a method better suited to ranking African — as opposed to global — universities, according to M&G. “There’s still a long way to go,” Baty said. He describes this list as “a snapshot of research strength.”

Batty also said lack of extensive data in creating this first ranking means this is “the very start of the story.. world rankings are driven by research, innovation and tech development,” he told M&G. “We need to work with African universities on (indicators such as) their teaching and graduate success…the rankings we’re publishing are actually very much the starting point. We want to use this conference to convince universities to start collecting and sharing data more consistently.”

Sources: TimesHigherEducation, Wikipedia, Mail&Guardian, BBC