Makerere drops in latest global university ranking, but moves up in Africa


The latest ranking of the world’s top universities, released on Wednesday, places Makerere University in the 401-500 band of the 980 institutions ranked. Specifically, Makerere is in the 446th position in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-2017, versus 407 last year.

The Times Higher Education rankings are one of three most respected global university rankings, together with the Academic Ranking of World Universities and the QS World University Rankings. They assess universities on 13 performance indicators grouped into five areas: teaching (worth 30% of the top overall score), research (30%), citations (30%), international outlook (7.5%), and industry income (2.5%).

Related: Makerere slips in global ranking of top universities

Makerere improved in three areas, and dropped in one. It’s citations score, 78%, is higher this year compared to last year (70.7%). It also registered an improvement in industry income – which looks at how much research income an institution earns from industry, scaled against the number of academic staff it employs – scoring 36.7% compared to last year’s 33.1%. Its international outlook – the proportion of foreign students and faculty, and international research collaborators – also improved slightly.

It however declined in the teaching area, which measures an institutions teaching reputation among academics, the staff-to-student ratio, doctorate-to-bachelor’s ratio, doctorates-awarded- to-academic-staff ratio and institutional income.

Makerere’s performance this year vs last year’s
 Performance Indicator 2017 2016
Teaching 15.1 15.9
International Outlook 58.3 58.0
Industry Income 36.7 33.1
Research 11.8 11.8
Citations 78.0 70.7

Makerere is the only Ugandan university in the ranking. In East Africa, only two universities from Uganda and Kenya make the list: Kenya’s University of Nairobi is in the 801+ band.

The top ranked African university is the University of Cape Town at 148, followed by the University of the Witwatersrand at 182. Makerere is third, while Stellenbosch University is fourth at 487. This means Makerere has leapfrogged Stellenbosch from when the last Africa ranking by the same publisher was released, in April; then, Stellenbosch was third and Makerere fourth.

This year’s ranking is topped by the University of Oxford from the United Kingdom. Nine of the top ten universities are either from the United Kingdom or the United States of America; Switzerland’s ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich is the interloper, coming in at number nine.

Other than a juggling of positions, the top ten institutions this year remain unchanged from last year’s. The only changes were Oxford’s move into first position, with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) dropping to second. The University of California, Berkeley also climbed three places to share 10th position with the University of Chicago.

Oxford has the highest score for research, while Caltech leads in teaching. Stanford and MIT share joint second for citations, behind St George’s, University of London, a highly focused medical institution.

Of the top 200, 63 are from the USA, 32 from the UK, 22 from Germany, and 13 from the Netherlands. Even then, “Asia is becoming increasingly visible, with several of the continent’s institutions edging closer to the top 20,” a statement by Times Higher Education says. Oxford’s vice chancellor told THE that universities from Asia are “one of the institution’s main future competitors, owing to their “massive government investment”, alongside American universities with “eye-watering endowments”.”

There are several social and economic benefits to having globally prestigious universities. Their ability to attract international students can be looked at as an export commodity, for example. According to the Economist, education is Australia’s “second-biggest export industry, behind only mining, worth A$18 billion ($15 billion) in 2015.” In the UK, another hot destination for international students, universities contribute more to GDP than agriculture.

South African institutions have in recent years doubled up efforts to attract more African students. The reason: “foreign students, especially from Africa, have become the bread and butter of South Africa’s universities and the economy of, especially, the country’s richest province Gauteng.”