Celebrating Afe Babalola University’s ranking by the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

The Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti in Ekiti State was recently ranked as Nigeria’s best university by the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, the only global performance tables that appraise universities across the world against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 17).

According to THE, indicators were carefully calibrated to provide comprehensive and balanced juxtaposition across areas such as research, stewardship, outreach, and teaching.

The ‘SDG-17 partnership for goals’ evaluates the broader ways in which universities support the SDGs through cross-border collaboration. The recent assessment involved 1,438 institutions from 108 countries, according to THE.

Therefore, Nigeria does not have any reason not to have its public universities highly ranked as those aforementioned schools. The missing link is funding

Afe Babalola University in Ado Ekiti, South West Nigeria, was ranked as the number one in Nigeria, beating the big six universities such as the University of Ibadan (UI), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), University of Nigeria (UNN), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), University of Lagos (UNILAG), and University of Benin (UNIBEN). And just recently, Covenant University joined the league of notable universities in Nigeria in line with the vision of its founder.

Afe Babalola University came first in Nigeria having scored 76.7 to 83.0 points under partnerships for the goals, and an overall score of 72.0 to 76.7 points, following which the university was ranked as between 201 and 300 in the world.

It was followed by Covenant University, which was ranked as 301-400; University of Lagos, 401-600; Lagos State University, 601-800; Landmark University, 601-800; Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndulu-Alike, 801-1000; Edo State University Uzairue, 801-1000; University of Ibadan, 801-100, and Babcock University, 1001+.

The top two Nigerian universities by this ranking are private universities, and this is symbolic for the nation. First, this ranking serves as an encouragement to investors in the private education sector in the sense that the more investments are made in private schools such as universities, the more the global accolades they get in the forms of rankings and grants.

Second, it will facilitate the quick absorption of their products by the private sector players locally and internationally because this global recognition has placed the university among the crème de la crème universities across the world.

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It is also symbolic for Nigeria. In the last decade, Nigerian undergraduates have had to waste so much time at home due to incessant strikes by either the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) or the non-academic staff associations. At present, ASUU is on strike and the body has accused the Federal Government of insensitivity.

ASUU’s grouse is the underfunding of the Nigerian tertiary education system, as the perennial underfunding has caused a culture of sub-optimal productivity within the system due to lecturers’ lack the necessary tools and equipment to train students like their counterparts in well-funded foreign universities.

It should be noted that foreign public universities have a very good outing on the ranking. The topmost universities are the University of Liverpool (UK), and Universiti Sains Malaysia (Malaysia), both of which shared the first position. Both are public universities like Nigeria’s UI, OAU, ABU, UNN, UNIBEN, and UNILAG.

The third, fourth, and fifth positions went to University of Sussex (UK); University of Newcastle (UK), and the Western Sydney University (Australia), and these are all public universities. Therefore, Nigeria does not have any reason not to have its public universities highly ranked as those aforementioned schools. The missing link is funding.

It is an anomaly for some organs of government to be outrageously funded for projects that do not benefit the nation while universities are deprived of basic funding.

While as Nigeria’s leader, President Muhammadu Buhari has the rights to commend and celebrate Afe Babalola University’s feat, however, it should be a time to reflect why only the private universities set up few years ago are now the ones bringing glory to Nigeria, and not jointly with well-established federal universities like the Big Six mentioned above.

The Federal Government should know that scholars in Nigerian federal universities are willing and able, but the government’s unwillingness to provide basic funding has been the drawback of federal universities’ optimal productivity.

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