How Are African Universities Doing?


How Are African Universities Doing?

Claudia Frittelli, Program Officer, Higher Education & Research in Africa, International Program at Carnegie Corporation of New York, attended the recent CHET HERANA series of meetings held towards the end of November 2015. She has written the following blog in which she shares her insights on the value of collecting data and developing indicators at institutional level in African universities:  

Worldwide rankings have come to African universities, powered by the technology of Web of Science (WoS), Scopus, and Google Scholar, the most widespread databases of scientific publications. As ranking surveys and templates arrive on the desks of university vice chancellors, and digital storage becomes cheaper, universities in developing countries are forced to keep better track of performance inputs and outputs or risk becoming invisible in the global higher education landscape. However, emphasis on climbing up the global rankings can lead to misguided missions.

Many argue that African universities are resourced at lower, incomparable scales, and local research that does not appear in global publication indexes is better for communities and government funding. For example, out of 300 South African indexed journals, only sixty-seven are included in WoS. Defining impact factor (how often an article is cited) is an additional debate. Yet as public funding is increasingly in question, it is critical for African universities and their stakeholders to provide evidence that they are contributing to development. With this aim, the Center of Higher Education Trust (CHET) Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network (HERANA) developed a set of performance indicators on flagship African universities over the last fourteen years, which was released last month at a HERANA workshop I attended in Cape Town.

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