Monday, October 18, 2021

UB gets only 40 percent in continental varsity project

The good news is that our very own University of Botswana (UB) beat six universities in a continental project, coming second after one of the best in Africa – the University of Cape Town (UCT). The bad news is that UB got only 40 percent and that there is a 50 percent gap between it and UCT. If it is any consolation, the worst performers were the University of Ghana and the Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique which got only 20 percent.

Measured against 10 indicators in a three-phase, 15-year research project that has just wrapped up, UB met the four targets of percentage of permanent academic staff with doctorates, science, engineering and technology ratio of full-time equivalent students to full-time equivalent academics, total graduates as percentage of total head count enrolments and doctoral graduates as percentage of doctoral head count enrolments; came within 60 percent of target masters and doctoral enrolments as percentage of total heads as well as percentage of professors, associate professors and senior lecturers; and missed the target by 60 percent or more on percentage of total head count enrolments in science, engineering and technology, masters and doctoral enrolments as percentage of total heads, doctoral enrolments as percentage of total heads as well as percentage of professors, associate professors and senior lecturers.

Coordinated by the Cape Town-based Centre for Higher Education Trust (CHET), the Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa (HERANA) project collected and analysed a key dataset from eight emerging researchÔÇÉintensive flagship universities. The latter were UB, UCT, University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, University of Ghana, Makerere University in Uganda, University of Mauritius and University of Nairobi in Kenya.

CHET takes the view that if a university is to sustain its production of highÔÇÉlevel knowledge in the form of doctoral graduates and research articles, at least 50 percent of its permanent academics should hold doctorates as their highest formal qualifications. UB did very well in this regard: “The data collected show that the sixÔÇÉyear average for 2010 to 2015 for the HERANA group of universities was only 38 percent of academics holding doctoral degrees. Three universities had averages above 50 percent (UCT 64 percent, Botswana 60 percent and Ghana 59 percent), and two had averages close to 50 percent (Dar es Salaam 48 percent and Mauritius 46 percent). The averages of the remaining three universities were below 40 percent.”

CHET considers the efficient use of resources, and in particular academic staffing as an important factor of highÔÇÉlevel knowledge production. However, the analysis shows that some of the HERANA universities “have spare academic staff capacity which could be directed towards the supervision of doctoral students and the production of research outputs.”

One very important HERANA activity was holding institutional forums with university leaders, including senior members of university councils and top officials from national departments of higher education. The purpose of these forums “was to discuss progress regarding the institutionalisation of data collection at the HERANA universities.” The Botswana government, which has expressed desire to make the country a regional “education hub” literally didn’t come to the party.

“Government representation was marked by its absence at the Botswana, Ghana and Makerere forums,” says the close-out report. “It was also noticeable that women were not wellÔÇÉrepresented in the senior ranks at these universities.”

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