The University of Zimbabwe's fall from grace on the African university rankings calls on authorities to redouble their efforts to correct this and make sure that the country's epitome of higher education regains its status.
As we reported last week, the UZ, the country's first and oldest university, which until the 1960s and early 2000 was one of the top universities in the Southern African region, has dramatically fallen from the elite list of top most higher learning institutions in Africa.
According to a 2018 list released by the Australia-based University Ranking organisation(uniRank), the UZ is ranked number 59 out of 200 universities in Africa, a position that makes it less attractive to prospective students seeking quality education.
UniRank is a leading international higher education directory and search engine featuring reviews and rankings of over 13, 000 officially recognised universities and colleges in 200 countries. UniRank is listed as a global university ranking institution by the IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence.
The 2018 list is dominated by South African universities with University of Pretoria topping the list, followed by the University of Cape Town.
The top 10 list is dominated by South African universities with only the University of Nairobi in Kenya and the American University in Caro, Egypt, taking the ninth and tenth positions respectively.
What is more worrying is that it is not only the UZ which is ranked lower, but the fact that apart from the Midlands States University which is ranked 148th, and Africa University at number 149, there is no other university from Zimbabwe which is ranked in the top 200 on the continent, is a matter of grave concern.
Definitely standards have fallen. The issue of funding definitely plays a pivotal role in maintaining the quality of our higher education and it is no wonder that South African and Nigerian universities dominate the rankings. South Africa and Nigeria are Africa's biggest economic powerhouses and they seem to be getting it right in terms of funding their universities.
It is a shame that the UZ can be ranked lower than universities in countries such as Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and even Sudan, moreso at a time the country is said to have the highest literacy rates on the continent. Something is certainly not right and the sooner the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education moves in to address this, the better.
Since the ushering in of the new dispensation, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has visited several countries during which he has called on Zimbabweans in the diaspora to come back home or invest in Zimbabwe. We believe there is a need to put in place measures, including funding, that will attract Zimbabwean academics that have left the country for greener pastures to return and work on improving standards in our universities.
Certainly the experiences they have gained outside the country would come in handy and ensure our institutions of higher learning regain the lost glory.