Nigeria with 219 universities enrolling 2.6 million students, has the most expansive university system in Africa. External quality assurance is vested by law on the National Universities Commission (NUC) and some professional bodies. Established in 1962, NUC is the oldest national quality assurance agency in Africa. By 1992, it emerged one of the trailblazers in the establishment of minimum academic standards for all universities in the country.
The pursuit of NUC’s quality assurance mandate has three major pillars. First is accreditation during which programmes and institutions are measured against minimum academic standards. Second is inspection and monitoring which are conducted to ensure institutions do not regress from maintaining academic standards between accreditation seasons. Third is ranking which measures each university on quality indicators with a view to stimulating competition and boosting quality as a collateral benefit.
In 2001, Nigeria, through the National Universities Commission (NUC), instituted a ranking mechanism that was aimed at fostering competition and stimulating quality. The experiment worked. The universities that led the pack during the first two years, yielded places to others that made efforts to improve their performance in the metrics. By 2006, the healthy competition translated to overall hike in performance on the ranking indicators.
A distinctive feature of the Nigerian model of university ranking, the first in Africa, was the use of a composite indicator- academic quality index, derived from scores on program accreditation. Since program accreditation is multidimensional with measures including quality of staff, curriculum, facilities, curriculum delivery, fundings and employers’ rating, the index served to represent the global quality profile of the university. By 2006, the indicator base of the ranking was expanded to reflect changes in the measure of quality in the Nigerian and global university systems over time.
After the 2002 early lead by the Nigerian ranking system, global players entered the space. In 2003, the first Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities was published. Times Higher Education and QS published their first rankings in 2004. This was followed in 2005 by Webometrics rankings. In 2021, AD-Scientific ranking joined the global efforts in ranking universities. In May 2022, several other rankers and variants of ranking have emerged.
To return Nigeria to its old glory in the ranking space, the Executive Secretary National Universities Commission, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed approved the restart of ranking in 2021. This turned out to be a huge success since lessons were learned from previous experiences. In order to further improve the process especially its inclusivity and transparency, the Executive Secretary established the Nigerian Universities Ranking Advisory Committee (NURAC) to oversee the ranking process up to the point of submitting a draft to NUC for review, approval and publishing. The Executive Secretary further directed every university to set up its institutional ranking committee. The University Ranking Committee (URC) is chaired by the deputy vice-chancellor in charge of research. It has as members, director of academic planning, director of ICT and representatives of each faculty in the university.
This report presents the process of the 2022 ranking of Nigerian universities and its product as a draft for NUC’s consideration. The first section reports on the methodology. This is followed by the results. Lessons learned and recommendations for the 2023 ranking are the presented, followed by the conclusion