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Why you are better off studying at Makerere, Dar es Salaam than UoN

By OUMA WANZALA September 17th, 2015 2 min read

The latest QS World University Rankings has momentarily settled an old sibling rivalry between East Africa’s academic giants.

The QS global survey has ranked Makerere University and University of Dar es Salaam higher than the University of Nairobi.

The saving grace for University of Nairobi is that it is the only Kenyan institution among the top 900 universities in the World. The university took position 701 out of 891 institutions ranked, though the survey considered about 3,539.

South African universities dominated the top positions on the continent, with the University of Cape Town ranked 171 in the world.

The ranking is based on four key pillars: Research, teaching, employability and internationalisation.

It considers six indicators: Academic reputation (40 per cent), employer reputation (10 per cent), faculty-student ratio (20 per cent), citations per faculty (20 per cent), international students (five per cent) and international faculty (five per cent).

Last month, the University of Nairobi was ranked among the best in Africa by Times Higher Education Supplement.

It was eighth in a list of the continent’s top 30 universities and once again Uganda’s Makerere was ahead of the University of Nairobi as it claimed position three.

According to the QS global survey, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the World’s top university, followed by Harvard.

A total of 76,798 academics and 44,226 employers contributed to the rankings, though the QS global survey analysed 11.1 million research papers — indexed by Elsevier’s Scopus database.

QS Head of Research Ben Sowter said the results revealed more diversity than ever in the distribution of universities at the highest levels.

“We are providing prospective students with the richest picture,” said Mr Sowter.

The QS ranking is an annual league table of top universities. It is compiled by the QS Intelligence Unit in consultation with an advisory board of leading academics.

The ranking is widely referenced by prospective and current students, university professionals and governments.

The purpose of the ranking is to recognise universities as multi-faceted organisations and to provide a comparison of their success against their notional mission of becoming or remaining world-class.


About 11.1 million papers indexed were analysed and 58.2 million citations counted, which amounted to 44.9 million once self-citations were excluded.

The United States dominated the rankings with 49 institutions, ahead of the UK (30), Netherlands (12), Germany (11), Canada, Australia and Japan (eight) each, China (seven), France, Sweden and Hong Kong (five) each.

Cambridge and Stanford come third and fourth respectively.