The Times Higher Education, (THE) ranking of universities globally for 2019 is no longer the news but Nigeria’s performance on that list appears not yet comprehensively appreciated. There is no consensus about the global ranking industry and whether they are not discursive but it is also interesting that the exercises have caught on. As is usual, Africa’s performance on the lists is always famished. This time, there are the regulars quite alright: South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, Morocco and Ghana.
But there is a surprise in the case of Nigeria. An upstart has deposed the giant. Covenant University has stolen the prize from the University of Ibadan, (UI) which has monopolised appearance in most of the ranking exercises. Although both Covenant and UI are in the 600-800 grouping, Covenant appears on the list well before UI. In fact, Covenant appeared well before established names in the world of universities such as Coventry University in the UK, the University of Roskilde in Sweden, Ben Gurion University in Israel, Beijing Institute of Technology in China, the University of Warsaw in Poland, the University of Tehran in Iran, the University of Western Cape in South Africa, the University of Baghdad whose entry into the listing is being celebrated because Iraq is coming in from war, many universities in East Europe such as those of Belgrade, Bucharest, Zagreb in Croatia, Hungary and several African national universities such as the University of Nairobi, University of South Africa, University of Marrakech Cadi and of Rabat, all in Morocco as well as the University of Cairo in Egypt. UI has either taken the first position for granted or has started relaxing.
The disasters this year as far as THE ranking is concerned must be the universities of Carleton in Ottawa, Canada; Bordeaux in France, Guelph also in Canada and Bradford in the UK. They all suffered setbacks from previous positions or went far, far behind.
From Africa, South Africa is where it is happening as far as university education is concerned. It not only has the sole African university in the first 200 universities on the list, it has the next three in the 300 – 400 class. These are the universities of Witswaterand, Stollenbosch and Kwazulu-Natal. University of Makerere in Uganda comes far, far behind. So, what are the rest of the African countries doing?
The global list has not changed much. It reflects the global balance of power in which Britain is the puzzle there. THE is British but even if one quarrels with Oxford and Cambridge taking the first two positions, what about the University of London which maintains its position? This is in the sense that mere campuses of the university are mostly in the world’s top 50. Imperial College London which has though cut off from the university is not only in the global top 10, University College London is 14th, LSE is 26th and King’s College is 38. Royal Holloway, Birkbeck and the School of Oriental and African Studies, (SOAS), are within the first 500 universities on the list. This is not to talk of many British universities within the first 100 as published below. In general, the list thus reflects the global power configuration because the universities are where the great ideas pushing the power configuration are coming from. Has Nigeria time to reflect on all these?
The list below is an aggregation of a piece from the World Economic Forum and the list by THE. It is the piece by Sean Fleming which has the backgrounds on the global top 10. The rest is the first 100 extracted from the original THE list for 2019:
- University of Oxford
The oldest university in the English-speaking world, there is evidence that teaching took place as far back as 1096. The University of Oxford is also the world’s second oldest surviving university. The university comprises 44 colleges and halls, and more than 100 libraries, making it the largest library system in the UK.
Its first international student, named Emo of Friesland, was enrolled in 1190. Famous alumni include Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto, Aldous Huxley, Tim Berners-Lee, and Indira Gandhi.
- University of Cambridge
Founded in 1209, the University of Cambridge’s 800-year history makes it the fourth-oldest surviving university in the world and the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world. The university is split into 31 autonomous colleges where students receive small group teaching sessions.
Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Alan Turing all attended Cambridge. It was also home to an infamous spy ring which passed information to the Soviet Union during the early years of the Cold War.
Slap bang in the middle of what is now Silicon Valley, it was established in 1885 by Jane and Leland Stanford, after whom it is named. They wanted “to promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization”. Set on 8,180 acres, Stanford is one of the largest campuses in the United States. Alumni include 17 astronauts, 18 Turing Award recipients and two Fields medalists.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Established in 1861 and based in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT says its aim is to “further knowledge and prepare students in science, technology and other fields of study that will best benefit the nation and the world today”.
Its motto is Mens et Manus, which translates from Latin as “mind and hand”. MIT estimates that all its living alumni have between them launched more than 30,000 active companies, created 4.6 million jobs and generated roughly $1.9 trillion in annual revenue.
- California Institute of Technology
Known as Caltech, its campus is in Pasadena, approximately 11km away from downtown Los Angeles. The world-renowned science and engineering research and education institution says its extraordinary faculty and students seek answers to complex questions, discover new knowledge, lead innovation and transform the future.
The oldest university in the US, dating back to 1636. Situated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard has a 5,000-acre campus, which houses 12 degree-granting schools, two theatres and five museums. It is also home to the world’s largest academic library.
Former students include Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Rahul Gandhi, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg.
Founded in 1746 as the College of New Jersey, it was officially renamed Princeton University in 1896 in honour of the area where it is based, opening its famous graduate school in 1900. Former students include Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Meg Whitman, Eric Schmidt, and John F Kennedy.
Named after slave trader and merchant, Elihu Yale, one of the establishment’s early benefactors, Yale claims to trace its roots back to the Pilgrim settlers of the 17th century. Plans for a college and library date back to 1656, but it wasn’t until 1718 that it became known as Yale.
Former students include Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and his father George HW Bush, and Gerald Ford.
- Imperial College London
Imperial can trace its roots back to the 1820s and the establishment of the Charing Cross Hospital Medical School, which formed part of the university over time. One of its most famous alumni was Sir Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin in 1928 and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1945 jointly with Sir Howard Florey and Dr Ernst Chain.
Of all the universities in the top 10, Imperial has the highest proportion of international students, who make up 56% of the student body.
- The University of Chicago
Established in 1890, with an initial pledge of $600,000 (more than $25 million in today’s currency) from John D Rockefeller, the university’s founders had a vision for providing “opportunities for all departments of higher education to persons of both sexes on equal terms”.
The First 100 Universities on the THE List:
|Rank||Name||No. of FTE Students||No. of students per staff||International Students||Female:Male Ratio|
|1||University of Oxford||20,298||11.0||40%||46 : 54|
|2||University of Cambridge||18,749||10.9||37%||46 : 54|
|3||Stanford University||15,878||7.4||23%||43 : 57|
|4||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||11,231||8.7||34%||38 : 62|
|5||California Institute of Technology||2,255||6.5||29%||33 : 67|
|6||Harvard University||20,595||9.1||26%||48 : 52|
|7||Princeton University||7,996||8.2||24%||45 : 55|
|8||Yale University||12,318||5.2||20%||50 : 50|
|9||Imperial College London||16,425||11.7||56%||38 : 62|
|10||University of Chicago||13,562||6.1||25%||44 : 56|
|11||ETH Zurich||18,171||12.3||39%||31 : 69|
|=12||Johns Hopkins University||16,146||4.6||25%||52 : 48|
|=12||University of Pennsylvania||20,443||6.4||20%||52 : 48|
|14||UCL||31,696||10.6||51%||57 : 43|
|15||University of California, Berkeley||36,468||13.2||17%||51 : 49|
|17||University of California, Los Angeles||39,464||9.2||17%||53 : 47|
|18||Duke University||15,037||4.4||18%||48 : 52|
|19||Cornell University||21,904||9.8||25%||49 : 51|
|20||University of Michigan||41,831||8.3||17%||48 : 52|
|21||University of Toronto||72,202||19.0||19%||n/a|
|22||Tsinghua University||36,912||11.9||11%||34 : 66|
|23||National University of Singapore||30,727||17.4||28%||50 : 50|
|24||Carnegie Mellon University||13,033||13.3||47%||40 : 60|
|25||Northwestern University||17,600||13.0||19%||48 : 52|
|26||London School of Economics and Political Science||10,028||11.8||70%||52 : 48|
|27||New York University||44,433||8.9||32%||56 : 44|
|28||University of Washington||45,476||11.3||16%||53 : 47|
|29||University of Edinburgh||28,153||12.7||41%||60 : 40|
|30||University of California, San Diego||31,687||12.9||20%||46 : 54|
|31||Peking University||42,547||8.9||17%||48 : 52|
|=32||LMU Munich||35,389||36.0||16%||61 : 39|
|=32||University of Melbourne||45,030||26.6||42%||56 : 44|
|34||Georgia Institute of Technology||21,903||21.5||27%||32 : 68|
|35||École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne||10,343||11.4||57%||28 : 72|
|36||University of Hong Kong||18,122||18.1||43%||54 : 46|
|37||University of British Columbia||53,566||18.6||30%||54 : 46|
|38||King’s College London||24,293||12.1||42%||62 : 38|
|39||University of Texas at Austin||48,561||17.1||10%||51 : 49|
|40||Karolinska Institute||7,898||9.2||19%||68 : 32|
|41||Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris||20,722||11.3||26%||44 : 56|
|42||The University of Tokyo||25,828||7.6||11%||n/a|
|43||University of Wisconsin-Madison||39,193||10.5||12%||n/a|
|=44||McGill University||31,060||13.0||28%||58 : 42|
|=44||Technical University of Munich||39,726||50.6||24%||34 : 66|
|46||Hong Kong University of Science and Technology||10,394||23.6||31%||n/a|
|47||Heidelberg University||20,953||16.6||17%||54 : 46|
|48||KU Leuven||44,719||36.5||15%||49 : 51|
|49||Australian National University||16,840||18.5||39%||52 : 48|
|50||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||43,908||17.9||24%||47 : 53|
|51||Nanyang Technological University, Singapore||25,738||16.7||28%||48 : 52|
|52||University of California, Santa Barbara||23,457||27.9||16%||52 : 48|
|54||Washington University in St Louis||13,074||7.3||20%||n/a|
|55||Chinese University of Hong Kong||17,883||18.4||33%||n/a|
|56||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||34,226||9.4||8%||57 : 43|
|57||University of Manchester||36,530||14.5||39%||53 : 47|
|58||Delft University of Technology||17,880||20.0||29%||28 : 72|
|=59||University of California, Davis||37,847||13.5||13%||57 : 43|
|=59||University of Sydney||43,333||20.5||35%||58 : 42|
|=59||Wageningen University & Research||13,214||20.9||29%||55 : 45|
|62||University of Amsterdam||23,778||12.3||12%||56 : 44|
|63||Seoul National University||26,066||12.3||12%||n/a|
|64||Purdue University||39,409||17.0||23%||42 : 58|
|65||Kyoto University||22,420||8.8||8%||24 : 76|
|66||University of Southern California||35,510||11.6||25%||53 : 47|
|67||Humboldt University of Berlin||33,000||59.0||17%||n/a|
|68||Leiden University||26,321||18.0||13%||57 : 43|
|69||University of Queensland||38,187||34.4||31%||55 : 45|
|70||Erasmus University Rotterdam||22,019||19.6||22%||50 : 50|
|=71||University of Minnesota Twin Cities||60,620||12.3||11%||52 : 48|
|=71||Ohio State University||53,540||12.8||12%||49 : 51|
|73||Sorbonne University||42,681||14.3||19%||59 : 41|
|=74||Boston University||25,095||8.4||27%||60 : 40|
|=74||Utrecht University||31,551||14.3||7%||59 : 41|
|76||University of Freiburg||22,005||44.5||22%||55 : 45|
|77||McMaster University||24,602||27.3||16%||53 : 47|
|78||University of Bristol||20,570||13.2||27%||53 : 47|
|=79||University of Groningen||26,183||23.8||18%||52 : 48|
|=79||University of Warwick||19,649||13.3||41%||50 : 50|
|81||Pennsylvania State University||45,704||15.0||15%||46 : 54|
|=82||University of Maryland, College Park||32,099||16.2||10%||47 : 53|
|=82||Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)||23,359||19.5||14%||42 : 58|
|=84||Emory University||12,647||4.2||20%||58 : 42|
|=84||Monash University||49,728||34.6||35%||57 : 43|
|86||Rice University||6,554||8.9||28%||42 : 58|
|=87||RWTH Aachen University||44,517||61.8||19%||32 : 68|
|=87||Uppsala University||25,061||16.9||14%||56 : 44|
|89||University of Tübingen||28,743||39.2||14%||58 : 42|
|=90||Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin||6,943||17.5||19%||64 : 36|
|=90||University of Montreal||37,311||20.3||23%||59 : 41|
|=90||University of Zurich||26,340||14.7||20%||57 : 43|
|=93||University of Glasgow||24,235||15.3||36%||58 : 42|
|=93||Michigan State University||44,951||17.0||17%||51 : 49|
|=93||University of Science and Technology of China||16,152||8.4||4%||n/a|
|=96||University of California, Irvine||31,089||16.7||24%||53 : 47|
|=96||University of New South Wales||41,358||30.5||36%||47 : 53|
|98||Lund University||28,454||11.8||17%||54 : 46|
|=99||Dartmouth College||6,172||6.7||15%||48 : 52|
|=99||University of Helsinki||22,418||16.6||6%||65 : 35|