By Kemi Olaitan
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Thursday decried the ranking of public universities in the country, stating that the positions of the universities vindicate the resolve of the union that the federal government has failed to properly fund education.
With the 2020/2021 ranking released by the Centre for World University Ranking, only two universities in the country, University of Ibadan and University of Nigeria, Nsukka, made the world’s best 2,000 universities.
According to the union, both universities, who presently hold national rankings of first and second in Nigeria could not make top 1,000 as the premier university is ranked 1,163, while University of Nigeria, Nsukka returned as 1,882 in the world.
However, unlike Nigerian universities, the first 13 universities in South Africa made the best 2,000 universities while seven of them made the best 1,000 varsities in the world.
These are University of Cape Town (268), University of Witwatersrand (275), Stellenbosch University (429), University of Kwazulu-natal (477), University of Pretoria (578), University of Johannesburg (706), North-west University (922)
By the ranking, University of Ibadan is eighth in Africa followed by University of Western Cape, South Africa (1,158) that is ranked 9th on the continent.
The Chairman, University of Ibadan chapter of ASUU, Prof. Ayo Akinwole, while reacting to the ranking in a release Thursday, maintained that the ranking vindicates the struggle by ASUU to make government commit not less than 26 per cent of its national budget to education, lamenting that the best the President Muhammadu Buhari government has done is to reduce the budget yearly to about six per cent at present.
He said ASUU has been drawing government and Nigerians’ attention to the rot in the tertiary education system and was proven right by the 2012 Needs Assessment conducted by the federal government, adding that as revealed in the ranking, it has taken personal dogged efforts of research output of academics in the University of Ibadan and University of Nigeria to position Nigeria on the global map.
Akinwole noted that the only variable that made the two Nigerian universities to be ranked among the best 2,000 universities is in relation to the research performance where the University of Ibadan had 1,101 with a total score of 69.4, while Nsukka had 1,805 and a total score of 66.2.
According to him, Nigerian academics are among the best in the world but are faced with poor working conditions including poor salaries and lack of the appropriate tools and clement environment to make them compete globally.
He disclosed that ASUU has been on strike to make government address issues of revitalisation fund, earned academic allowances, visitation panel to universities, proliferation of state varsities and issues of governance in them and speedy conclusion of the renegotiation of 2009 agreement.
Akinwole admonished Nigerians to join ASUU in ensuring that the federal government injects more funds for the revitalisation of public varsities so that Nigerian universities will be able to compete effectively globally and their graduates will be respected across the world with their certificates.
According to him, “Although one may have one or two things to say about the indices used in the ranking but the truth of the matter is that Nigeria academics are using their own blood to still make Nigerian varsities to run because government has become irresponsible and wicked. They don’t have stakes in it again as they send their children abroad. A government that is serious will not cut from education budget and leave untouched the budget of National Assembly to renovate their complex that has no direct impact on the country.
“This is a clear demonstration of where the priority of this government is. During Covid-19, Nigerian researchers are contributing the meagre amount they are paid to develop ventilators, while legislators break the law on preventive advisory. But unfortunately, even the medical doctor-turned Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, who represents a government that has no respect for agreements and the law of the land wants academics to invent when they have injected nothing into the system to come out with ground breaking discoveries”
The Centre for World University ranking utilised quality of education which is measured by the number of a university’s alumni who have won a major academic distinctions relative to the university’s size, alumni employment (number of alumni who have held top executive position at world’s largest economy), quality of faculty (number of a university faculty who have won major academic distinctions), and research performance ( measured by the total number of research paper, high quality publications in top-tier journals, influence and citations) to arrive at the latest ranking.