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Focus on research for development, not academic rankings

  |   Research, Sector Insights   |   No comment
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  • Focusing on international rankings would be inappropriate for Africa’s universities
  • Governments should help some universities focus on research for development, others on teaching
  • Limited funds make collaboration on resources and training crucially important


Africa’s universities can take concrete steps to boost doctoral education and research, argues Goolam Mohamedbhai.

Global university rankings measure how universities perform based on a range of indicators. The most influential ones focus heavily on research, using criteria such as academic reputation surveys and citations in international or high-impact journals.

But such criteria are not relevant to African universities. Their priorities should be research to solve the myriad development challenges facing the region; communicating their findings appropriately to stakeholder groups (which may not be about publishing in high-impact journals); and engaging with the wider community to meet internationally agreed development goals.

These priorities do not fit the criteria for global rankings.

But African universities face enormous challenges in promoting research to support development, especially through doctoral education.


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