University of Nairobi trails Africa peers in research, lecturer numbers

Monday September 11 2017

Jack Ma gives a lecture at the University of Nairobi recently. PHOTO | REUTERS | NMG

Jack Ma gives a lecture at the University of Nairobi recently. PHOTO | REUTERS | NMG 

By NEVILLE OTUKI
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The University of Nairobi has moved one position up to be ranked the 11th best university in Africa even as it trails peers in research, female student enrolment and lecturer-student ratio.

The Times Higher Education World University rankings, released last week, shows that the university has improved from position 12 last year.

The University of Nairobi and Uganda’s Makerere (position five) are the best higher learning institutions in Eastern Africa, while University of Cape Town in South Africa leads the pack in Africa.

The study assessed five metrics to rank them — teaching, research, citations, international outlook and knowledge transfer.

“Kenya has one university in the overall rankings,” the study says.

Globally, the Nairobi varsity is ranked at number 801-1000, a band used to categorise universities with close results, behind Makerere (401-500) while Cape Town comes in at 171.

“We used the bands in the rankings since the results for several universities were too close to call,” Laura Barnes, an official, responded when we asked for the exact positions.

The report indicates that Nairobi is, however, the worst performer among its peers in research work with a score of 9.4, behind Makerere University (11.6). University of Cape Town has a 36.2 grade in research, Africa’s best.

Nairobi also holds the dubious distinction of having the highest number of students per lecturer at 47.3, compared to 28.8 for Makerere, 11.7 for Cape Town, 12.7 for Suez Canal University and 26.5 for Mansoura University, both Egyptian institutions which are classified in the same band with Nairobi.

Kenya’s top varsity boasts a bloated student population of 84,614.