University of Rwanda (UR) is set to increase research publications and get more PhD lecturers so as to raise the university’s global rankings, according the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs and Research, Professor Nelson Ijumba.
Ijumba said this in response to the 2015 World University rankings, in which the public University did not feature in the top 30 universities on the continent.
“We still have few staff (20 per cent) with PhDs but we hope to increase that number to around 60 per cent in the next 10 years; that’s our strategy. We will have people to supervise that development and to make sure we reach that target,” said Ijumba.
Apart from Uganda’s Makerere University, Kenya’s University of Nairobi and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, which were in the top 30 universities in Africa, the rest are in South Africa and Egypt.
Ijumba said it was still early to rate the two-year old UR among Africa’s best varsities; however, he is confident that rankings will improve in 10 years’ time.
There are different ranking methodology used, one being Webometrics process where credibility is based on university publications posted on the website aiming to provide comparative information and improved understanding of education.
Other ranking criteria include Shanghai Jiao University Ranking, The Times Higher Education Supplement, World University Ranking, European Commission, Slovenian, among many others.
Ijumba says that since the previous ranking (2014) by Webometrics—where the University of Rwanda ranked 210, the university has since improved to attain higher status, with the latest ranking putting it at 150 out of 900 universities in Africa.
“We are moving forward in this form of ranking because of increased web publications. Our website is more visible now,” Ijumba said.
Webometrics Ranking of World Universities —launched in 2004, is carried out by a research group under the National Research Council, one of the world’s largest public research organisations.
“If you look at that ranking system, they look at your research output in terms on quality and quantity, teaching quality in terms of student- staff ratio, and the university’s reputation with peers in terms on the number of partners, how employable the University graduates are, and how much money the university attracts in terms of grants… so we are preparing now to participate in these other rankings in the next three to four years because by that time we would have built a record viewer ,” Ijumba added.
Ijumba also noted that the rate at which UR graduates get employment varies with the profession and measures are in place to improve research and innovation, which in the long run will also inspire ranking of the national university on the global scale.
“There are some graduates who get jobs easily while others struggle but what we are doing is to emphasise on entrepreneurship and innovation, developing soft skills in terms of creativity and team building, so that when our students go outthere, they can become employers rather than job seekers, Ijumba reiterated.
Prof. Manasse Mbonye, the Principal of the College of Science and Technology (CST), said that through the just concluded week-long research and innovation conference in science and technology, UR was trying to not only streamline science and technology to national development as underlined in Vision 2020, but also do things better by being bench markers to the best universities on the continent and beyond, especially through innovations.
“The annual conference is aimed at boosting our research and improving the status quo of the institution in terms of rankings,” said Mbonye.