National university ranking system planned

In an effort to boost quality and make institutions more globally competitive, Egypt is planning to launch a national university ranking system. The step will place Egypt at the forefront of African countries producing rankings, along with Nigeria and Kenya.

The university ranking system was announced by Egypt’s Minister of Higher Education Al Sayed Ahmed Abdel-Khalek on 9 June.

Nigeria’s National University Commission launched a ranking in 2013 and Kenya is getting close to rolling out a national university ranking system.

At the Arab level, Egypt’s will likely be the second ranking after the United Arab Emirates, which is considering setting up its own.

National ranking system

A proposed ranking has been crafted that will see Egyptian universities compete across a range of key performance indicators.

The indicators developed by a unit in the Ministry of Higher Education include education (350), scientific research (250), knowledge transfer to society (150), financial and human resources (150) and international cooperation (100).

Besides taking into account some international parameters such as faculty-student ratio, international research collaboration, research publication, citations in globally recognised journals and patents, there are specific parameters based on Egypt’s needs including the socio-economic and developmental impact of universities. Publications in the Arabic language will be included for assessment purposes.

The new Egyptian classification system will be aimed at helping students to choose the best institutions and study programmes, and will act as a valuable reference tool for comparative information on higher education.

It will also provide detailed information in areas of central importance to decision-makers and higher education institutional leaders, to aid in the formulation of appropriate higher education policies.

Egyptian universities in the world

Egypt has one of the largest populations of university students in the Arab region – it has 23 public universities with two million students and 19 private universities with about 60,000 students.

Currently, Egypt relies on international rankings to measure the reputation of its universities in the global higher education arena. But since the world ranking systems do not pay enough attention to non-English teaching and research institutions, they work against Arabic universities.

While one of the oldest universities in the world is in Egypt – Al-Azhar University – none of the country’s 42 universities were included in the most recent lists of the top 100 world-class universities

Samir Khalaf Abd-El-Aal, a professor of genetics and molecular biology at the National Research Centre in Cairo, welcomed the new national university ranking system.

“The proposal seems sound as it could enhance competitiveness among national universities and create an environment that fosters transparency and collaboration,” Abd-El-Aal told University World News.

“As most universities provide little data and information about their performance indicators, a national ranking system would help in motivating more institutions to collect information and design strategies around this data,” Abd-El-Aal concluded.