UNILORIN vs OAU: The best university ranking debate

Date: 2014-08-27

The Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State and the University of Ilorin, Kwara State have differed on which is the best university in Nigeria. While OAU is claiming to be the best, pointing to a ranking by Cybermetrics Lab-CSIC, based in Spain, UNILORIN is backing its position with a ranking carried out by the International Colleges and Universities Web Ranking.

According to OAU Public Relations Officer, Mr. Biodun Olarewaju, the university has been for fourth consecutive times ranked first in Nigeria.

Olarewaju said, “According to the latest ranking released in July, 2014 on its website: http//www.webometrics.info/en/ africa/nigeria, OAU has been adjudged to have continuously recorded excellence in its area of research, academic, university governance and extensive deployment of ICT for its operations.

“This is the first time that any Nigerian university would be so ranked and rated the first and the best for four times running, bringing to rest any contention from any quarter. However, a statement by the UNILORIN Deputy Director, Corporate Affairs, Mr. Kunle Akogu, said the university was adjudged best in Nigeria. According to him, the university is also 20th best university in Africa and 1,842nd in the world in the 2014 University Web Ranking.

He said the result of the ranking conducted by International Colleges and Universities was released on July 29, 2014. This is a needless exercise and rather than aspire to be a local champion, Nigerian universities should strive to be the best in the whole of Africa. They must be able to compete with any university globally. A situation where no Nigerian university is not in the top ten in Africa is unthinkable and totally unacceptable.

Although it is not a small feat to accomplish, it will indeed take some doings but it is quite doable for Nigerian universities to rank amongst the very best top 10 in the globe, it takes determination, focus and well-coordinated efforts to get to this enviable position. Education is too important to national development and nation-building to be treated with levity and kid-gloves.

The relationship between education and development is well established such that education is a key index of development. It has been documented that schooling improves productivity and health. It reduces negative features of life such as child labour as well as bringing about empowerment.

This is why there has been a lot of emphasis particularly in recent times for all citizens of the world to have access to basic education. Education as a social institution therefore could be seen as a great value concerned with imparting knowledge and skills, which help an individual to participate in society.

Therefore, education in general, and higher education in particular, are fundamental to the construction of a knowledge economy and society in all nations. However, the potential of higher education system in Nigeria to fulfill this responsibility is frequently thwarted by long-standing problems of funding, efficiency, equity, quality and governance. Now, these old challenges have been augmented by new challenges linked to the growing role of knowledge in economic development, rapid changes in telecommunications technology, and the globalization of trade and labour markets.

A professor once noted that Nigerian universities are under the siege of decay.

There are no facilities for effective practicals for the students especially in those universities with a technology bias. When universities face accreditation exercises for their courses, some departments have to borrow equipment from neigbouring and sister institutions.

Section B sub-section 59 of Nigerian National Policy on Education articulates the goals of tertiary education in the country, and states that these include; Contribute to national development through high level relevant manpower training; Develop and inculcate proper values for the survival of the individual and society; Develop the intellectual capacity of individuals to understand and appreciate their local and external environments; Acquire both physical and intellectual skills which will enable individuals to be self – reliant and useful members of the society; Promote and encourage scholarship and community service; Forge and cement national unity’, as well as promote national and international understanding. To get the Nigerian universities to be among the very best in the world, there must be an urgent national summit on university education in Nigeria.

The funding of Nigerian university must improve tremendously and such funds be judiciously applied, value orientation about university education and scholarship must change, and there must no short-cut to success amongst students. It is also important to note that research takes a lot of effort and demands a great deal of money. If an academic staff is to research and publish in reputable journals outside the country, he should have access to funds and adequate equipment .

This is the global standard procedure which has ensured scientific and technological advances. If Nigeria is going to catch up with and get into the main stream of development in the twenty -first century, her universities must be alive to their research responsibilities.

The products of science and technology, which Nigerians consume with unbridled avidity, take their root from world-class universities and research institutions. Nigeria has resources both human and material to accomplish this goal. What is lacking is committed, insightful and informed leadership to propel the nation’s potentials. Indeed, Nigerian universities can rank among the very best in the world.

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