(For full details see Okebukola, P.A.O. (2013). An African perspective on rankings in higher education. In P.T.M. Marope, P.J. Wells and E. Hazelkorn (eds). Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education: Uses and Misuses. Paris: UNESCO.
In September 2001, Nigeria, through the National Universities Commission (NUC), initiated steps towards a national ranking of its universities. This turned out to be the first of such rankings in Africa. There were three major drivers for this effort. The first was a desire among the population to know more about the relative standing (performance) of the universities and their programmes in order to guide career choices by prospective students. Second, the government wanted a transparent and objective mechanism for identifying centres of excellence to which funds allocation could be preferentially applied. Thirdly, the NUC whose mandate includes the orderly development of universities needed a basis for advising government on programmes and universities that should be strengthened to address projected human resource needs of the country. Coincidentally, consultations on a World Bank facility for improving the Nigerian university system was about to be concluded and the league table of universities and programmes was to be a key factor in implementing the project. Taken together, the atmosphere was ripe for a university ranking scheme. The national programme accreditation exercise of 2000 provided data derived through an objective and transparent methodology for drawing up the league tables. Since 2001 annual university rankings by programmes and institutions have been conducted. By 2004 and 2005, additional indicators were included in the data to align the national ranking with three global ranking schemes- THE, Webometrics and ARWU (Okebukola, 2006; 2010). The ranking indicators were:
- Percentage of academic programmes of the university with full accreditation status: This is to measure the overall academic standing of the university. It is computed by dividing the number of academic programmes of the university with full accreditation status by the total number of programmes offered by the university and expressing this as a percentage. It will be recalled that the first two raking exercises of Nigerian universities used only programme accreditation data.
2. Compliance with carrying capacity (measured by the degree of deviation from carrying capacity): This indicator measures how well enrolment of the university matches available human and material resources. Universities that over-enrol (exceed carrying capacity) are penalised on this measure. It is computed as
Deviation from carrying capacity X 100%
3. Proportion of the academic staff of the university at professorial level: This is an assessment of the quality of academic staff in the university. The full professorial category is selected as it is the zenith of academic staff quality in a university. It is calculated by dividing the number of full professors in the university by the total number of academic staff and expressing this as a percentage.
4. Foreign content (staff): proportion of the Academic staff of the university who are non-Nigerians: Designed to measure how well the university is able to attract expatriate staff. The indicator is important in a globalising world and within the context of a university being an institution with a universal framework of operations. It is computed by dividing the number of non-Nigerian teaching staff by the total number of academic staff in the university and expressing this as a percentage.
5. Foreign content (students): proportion of the students of the university who are non-Nigerians: This indicator measures how well the university is able to attract foreign students. As stated for the staff component, the indicator is important in a globalising world and within the context of a university being a universal institution where students from all over the world are free to enrol. It is derived as the percentage of the quotient obtained by dividing the number of non-Nigerian students in the university by the total number of students.
6. Proportion of staff of the university with outstanding academic achievements: such as Nobel Prize winners; National Merit Awardees; and Fellows of Academies e.g. Academy of science; Academy of Letters, Academy of Education, Academy of the Social Sciences: The indicator gives the standing of the staff of the university when normed with colleagues at national and international levels. Further, it measures how well the university is able to stimulate and retain quality staff. It is computed by dividing the number of staff with such academic achievements by the total number of academic staff and expressing the quotient as a percentage.
7. Internally–generated Revenue: This measures the ability of the university to generate funds from non-governmental/proprietor sources. It is derived as the amount of revenue generated internally, divide by the total revenue of the university X 100.
- Research output: A very important measure of the esteem and relevance of a university, this indicator provides information on how well the staff of the university are able to contribute to knowledge through research. Only research published through international outlets and indexed in acclaimed Abstracts and Indexes are to be counted. For the 2004 ranking, only books and journal articles that are published in outlets with Editorial Offices in Europe, North America, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand will be accepted. Nigerian publications with proof of abstracting or indexing in world-renowned Abstracting and Indexing services will be accepted. This measure is computed as the total number of such publications contributed by staff of the university in 2004 up to a maximum of 100. Proofs of the publications are to be submitted at the time of filing data for the university.
9. Student completion rate: A measure of the internal efficiency of the university, student completion rate in 2004 is calculated by dividing the number of students of the university who graduated in 2004 (for the cohort that enrolled in 1999/2000) by the total number of students in the graduating class in 2004. The quotient is expressed as a percentage.
10. Ph.D. graduate output for the year: This is an indicator which combines the postgraduate standing of a university with the internal efficiency of postgraduate education. It is computed by dividing the number of PhDs graduated in 2004 by the total number of postgraduate students in that year and multiplying by 100.
11. Stability of university calendar: It is in an atmosphere of peace and stability that good quality teaching, learning and research can prevail. It is when the university calendar is stable that foreign staff can fit the schedule of their parent university to a target local university and be able to offer service including contribution to research in that local university. Also, stability guarantees local staff a long vacation period that can be used to cool off or be engaged in research activities in a target foreign university. Exciting vacation courses for students can be run during such periods. This indicator is computed as follows:
. 12 - No of Months of Closure X 100
12. Student to PC Ratio: In an ICT-enabled higher education world, the student-to-PC ratio becomes important. This indicator is given as:
i.e. Total No of computers available to students X 1000
Total Number of Students
PCs available to students in commercial Internet cafes are not counted.
From 2006 to 2018, the leadership of NUC put a pause on ranking. The current leadership of NUC with Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed as Executive Secretary, saw ranking as an important factor in stimulating quality and approved the restart of the process.