UoN only Kenyan university among world’s top 2,000

The entrance to the University of Nairobi in April last year. 

The entrance to the University of Nairobi in April last year. 

Photo credit: File

The University of Nairobi is the only Kenyan university listed among the world’s top 2,000 universities in the latest rankings released today by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR).  

Kenya’s premier university is ranked 1,425th in the 2023 edition of the Global 2000 list, placing it in the top 7 percent worldwide.

However, UoN has dropped 20 places from last year’s ranking due to a decline in the employability of its graduates and its research output, which are some of the key performance indicators.

The rankings come against a backdrop of major reforms in the education sector. Recently, there has been a greater focus on university funding in an attempt to get universities out of the financial quagmire they are currently in.

CWUR analysed 62 million outcomes-based data points to rank universities from around the world on four factors: quality of education (25 per cent), employability (25 per cent), quality of faculty (10 per cent) and research performance (40 per cent).

These are measured without relying on surveys and data submissions from universities. This year, 20,531 universities were ranked. UoN Vice-Chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama was delighted to hear the news.

“Obviously we’re delighted. Students at UoN are taught from new knowledge based on research. We have a huge responsibility to maintain the standards we’ve set. The others [universities] know where to go,” he told Nation.

The CWUR president, however, sounded an alarm over the performance of Kenyan universities.

“It is alarming to see only one Kenyan university in the rankings. Funding to further promote the development and reputation of Kenya’s higher education system is vital if the country is to be more competitive on the global stage,” he said.

The UoN’s employability rank slipped from 1,553 in the world last year to 1,610 this year, while its research performance fell from 1,348 last year to 1,365 this year. Its overall score was 68.2 out of 100.

“Efforts must be made to ensure that Kenya attracts top academics and students, that the increase in university enrolments is matched by an increase in teaching capacity, and that expenditure on tertiary education as a percentage of national GDP increases steadily in the coming years”.

The top 10 is dominated by universities from the US, with 332 institutions in the list. For the twelfth year running, Harvard is the world’s top university with a perfect score of 100 percent.

It is followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, while the UK’s Cambridge and Oxford (ranked fourth and fifth respectively) are the only non-US universities in the top ten.

The others are Princeton, Chicago, Columbia, Pennsylvania and Yale. In Africa, the top ten universities are Cape Town (267th), Witwatersrand (290th), Stellenbosch (450th), KwaZulu-Natal (478th), Cairo (520th), Pretoria (557th), Johannesburg (628th), Ain Shams (772nd), Addis Ababa (862nd) and North-West (887th).

However, 262 American universities have fallen in the rankings due to increased global competition from well-funded institutions, particularly from China, which has 314 institutions on the list. 96 per cent of Chinese universities ranked higher than last year.

The top ten universities in Europe this year are: Cambridge (UK, 4th), Oxford (UK, 5th), University College of London (UK, 19th), PSL (France, 21st), Imperial College (UK, 29th), ETH Zurich (Switzerland, 30th), Paris Saclay (France, 32nd), Copenhagen (Denmark, 35th), Karolinska Institute (Sweden, 38th) and Paris City University (France, 39th).