Rwandan Universities ranked poorly in the latest ranking of top universities by Webometrics. The National University of Rwanda (NUR) is the only local university in the top 100 in Africa this year. Following this report, the media has been awash with criticism of the institutions, with some critics equating them to a failed education system.
However, despite the low rankings, the universities need time and patience to get to international university status that we all wish them. Already there are measures being taken to transform the higher institutions of learning and higher education in general. The planned one university scheme is a case in point.
The image of a university takes time to reach international standards. World-class Universities started off as lowly institutions, with programmes which were not tested immediately but after a long time through products. For example, Harvard University has maintained its image because of the products it has passed out over time. A name of a university is like a name of any establishment which maintains its consistency in terms of quality services and products.
A university which is starting off now can’t be judged by their name today. It will be proved by the originality of its products and programmes in years or even decades to come. Another aspect is research; a university must be able to continuously carry out research recognised at the international level and this research must be made available on the web. With the switch from French to English as the medium of instruction, among other reforms , it would be asking too much to expect our universities to immediately start meeting these parameters to be able to churn out the best graduates .
The history of top notch Universities shows us that institutions evolve. They adapt to meet the inevitable changes and challenges in their environment. As they do, they not only survive, but become stronger. For a university to become a world-class tertiary institution, it is a process that takes ages. Therefore, despite the challenges facing our universities- that does not mean that they won’t be world-class universities in 30 or 40 years time. Such has been the case in universities we look up to. Our universities need support and not ridicule.