By Chris Kiwawulo
Makerere University’s ranking has improved to the ninth overall best university in Africa, according to the findings of a new study.
The Scimago Institutions Ranking (SIR) World Report 2012 shows that Makerere has leaped from the 11th position in which the Wobemetrics rankings placed it last August.
SIR is a comprehensive ranking of worldwide research institutions, with the goal of rating every institution around the world that does meaningful scientific output.
The ranking includes 3,290 institutions worldwide that together, are responsible for more than 80% of worldwide scientific output during the term 2006-10 as indexed in Elsevier’s SCOPUS database.
The SCOPUS database is the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature and quality web resources with smart tools that track, analyse and visualize research.
The report, which annually considers the number of scientific articles, reviews and conference papers contained in the database, is good news to Makerere’s research efforts.
In Africa, the top five universities are in South Africa. The University of Cape Town is number one followed by that of Witwatersrand.
The University of Pretoria is third, Stellenbosch University is fourth, while the University of KwaZulu-Natal holds the fifth position.
Nigeria’s Ibadan University is sixth followed by Tunisia’s El Manar University in seventh place and Sfax University, also from Tunisia, in eighth position.
Makerere is in the ninth position before South Africa’s University of the Free State, which is 10th. The University of Johannesburg is 13th, while Rhodes University is 14th. These two are also from South Africa.
Regionally, the University of Nairobi is 23rd, while Kenya Medical Research Institute is 25th. Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences from Tanzania is 56th, while the University of Dar-es- Salaam, also in Tanzania, holds the 57th position.
According to a statement from Makerere, the improvement in ranking implies that a greater worldwide audience is being impacted by research publications and output from the university.
Makerere is the only institution in Uganda that featured in the ranking and is competing with directly funded institutions from South Africa, Nigeria and Tunisia.
Reacting to the improved performance, Dr. Vincent Ssembatya, the director of Quality Assurance, said: “This report is a good point on which to convince our Government to directly fund research and publications/ publishers so as to elevate our profile as a research-led institution.”
He noted that the Government’s direct involvement in funding research in South Africa has made the country an attractive destination for scholars from all over the globe.
As a result, South Africa came next to Australia in a world survey of the highest paid professors by country.
By steadily improving and increasing her research output, Ssembatya added, Makerere University is committed to reaching a wider audience of policy makers, development partners, researchers, media and the general public with the aim of remaining relevant to the communities it serves.
Last August, the Webometrics rankings showed that Makerere had improved by four positions globally from 1,177th position as of January 2012. Webometrics is another organisation that monitors university performance worldwide.