By Herryman Moono, MSc(Oxford); MSc(Sheffield); BA(UNZA); FRSA; RES; AEA.

The past few days, social media has been buzzing with the news that Oxford University has reclassified all Zambian Universities as well as those of other African countries to college status for the purpose of admission into its Postgraduate programmes. This means that, for one from a Zambian university (both public – like UNZA and Paul Mushindo and private like – like UNILUS and Copperstone) to qualify for Postgraduate studies in a top UK university, they must have a Minimum of a Masters Degree.

A check at Leeds University Business School admission for Postgraduate programmes revealed that while a graduate from a University in Zimbabwe could enter with only a Bachelor’s Degree with an average of 65%, an applicant from a Zambian University must have a Minimum of a Masters’ Degree with an average of 70% on all courses!

This revelation has outraged many Zambians that have criticized UK universities’ strict entry rules. Arguments have ranged from absurd outbursts blaming colonialism to an attack on how ‘weak’ UK education is compared to Zambian education. Some arguments have been on the rather subjective nature of world university rankings which are biased against developing country universities.

I would like to contribute to this debate by highlighting some of the measures that make some universities great and others mediocre when assessed at the world stage. This is not an exhaustive list, and can be subjected to debate.

1. Research Output: A University, beyond learning, should be a source of innovation and inventions. Such can only come from deep academic research by both lecturers and students. The higher the research output, the higher the university rank. However, it isn’t just about the quantity of research, its quality and impact in both academia and the world outside academics matters. For example, with the annual cholera ritual in Zambia in compounds like Kalingalinga, research at the nearby university could have developed a vaccine or any innovative method to prevent the occurrence of this disease. Such research could then be commercialized to raise money for the university and the nation at large. Universities are supposed to be the hub of research and development.

2. Patents: Out of research comes possibly commercially viable projects or innovations which ought to be patented. The higher the number of patents applied for and patents granted the higher the ‘university power’ and the higher its rank. However, as stated, patents are a product of research. Patents can be sold or, with funding, trials of the patented idea can be started to exploit commercial viability.

3. University linked Start-Ups: The Silicon Valley in the USA which is the home of technological innovation is centered around Stanford university not by accident, no, but because graduates from this university set up companies whose success depends on knowledge from the university. Lecturers or students from university can start companies that use the research knowledge from the university. This is what we economists call ‘Knowledge Spill-Over’. The higher the research power of the university, the more start-ups linked to the university will be, and the higher will be its university rankings.

4. Research Income/Endowments: This is linked to 1 – 3 above. Universities with high financial endowments also rank highly. This is no coincidence: Either high funding leads to better research of better research yields high returns from innovations or both. Students from great universities who have ‘made it in life’ usually give back to the university in form of scholarships or research grants. Cecil John Rhodes set up the Rhodes scholarship tenable at Oxford. In 2013, a former Oxford student and Rhodes Scholar donated £75 million to the Rhodes Trust in to continue the scholarship at Oxford University. Such endowments enable universities to develop further and thus rank highly.

5. Quality of Leaning Environment; The learning environment of the university has an impact on its overall ranking. For example, a university with over 5000 students yet has library capacity for less than 3000 students will be ranked low compared to one that has the capacity that meets its students. In the words of Thomas Malthus, this refers to ‘carrying capacity’ – if you have more students than you can attend to, then the quality of their learning will be low. Just like in population studies, when a nation has a larger population than its resources can sustain, the quality of life of such a population deteriorates. If students have to sit on the floor during lectures or that they have to fight for a chair during library hours, then the university’s carrying capacity has been exceeded, and such a university needs further reinvestments or needs to make strict entry requirements to ration its capacity, failure to which it will produce students of low academic and labour market quality.

6. Quality of Lecturers/Teaching Staff; The quality of any output is as good as the inputs. Therefore, the higher the quality of lecturers, the higher the quality of graduates. The quality of lecturers is gauged by their level of education as well as their academic research prowess. A university with lecturers with low levels of education and a low publication record will be ranked poorly than one with the lecturers trained at higher levels and have high impact publication records.

7. Quantity of Lecturers/Teaching Staff; Like quality, the number of teaching staff at a university is key as this has a bearing on how much time they devote to students. Just as worry about teacher pupil ration in primary and secondary school, we also worry about lecturer student ratio in higher education. Universities that have few lecturers for a large number of students are usually ranked low. The argument here is that lecturers tend to be stressed and would not have enough time for student engagement to enhance the learning outcomes of students. Furthermore, with more students across different courses, such a scenario robs lecturers to be specialists as they will have to teach a range of courses, leaving little room for research and innovation.

8. Employability after graduation: This is a very important consideration for many students. The higher the labour market returns to university education, the higher the rank of universities. The performance in the labour market reflects post-graduation can be linked to the quality of education one has, especially in the engineering disciplines where output is more easily ‘visible’. I think even locally in Zambia, there are institutions that will only hire graduates from the University of Zambia and not others. Such practice makes the University of Zambia be highly ranked than others, and by continuously to do so, sustains its high rank.

9. Student Experiences/Disruption of Academic Calendars: This is quite obvious – a university that has few or now disruptions to its academic calendar will be ranked higher than one with persistent closures which affects the length of stay of students at university. Student experiences are also key – are students happy being at university? Are they safe? Does the university offer sufficient counselling and career guidance? What is the status of sports and other extracurricular activities?

10. International students/lecturers attraction: A great university will attract international students and lecturers. The higher your reputation as a university, the more international students and lecturers you will attract. A university that cannot attract international students can safely be deemed not to offer an internationally recognized education, and also loses from the opportunity of learning from others who would work or study there.

There are certainly many other measures one can look at, but just by looking at the above 10, we can see why some universities rank poorly than others. What we also need to appreciate is that these measures are concerned with ‘International Ranking’, rather than local in-country ranking. A university can be the top university in Zambia but would be No. 50 in Africa and No. 5578 in the world. This does not mean that it is not the best, for best, like beauty, is relative.

Loading...

70 COMMENTS

  1. No time to read this. Didn’t they reach u to summarise at university. It is very typical of Zambians to list all their qualifications and yet your country is poor. Nothing to be proud of. You can have all those papers but if you can’t change your country and u spend all day begging for job on Facebook ati aliba humble mu guy… what is point?

    14

    47
    • University of Botswana opened only in 1982. It has an endowment of US$50 million invested in various assets. Closures are unheard of. And this is a university many UNZA lecturers flocked to in the 1980s to start various academic departments. Now they are training Zambians in post-grad programmes. Very few Zambian academics remain there now as the university has trained its own citizens. As for UNZA , CBU and other local universities, I do not know why we are even surprised they have been down-graded. They are exactly where they should be. I hope this prompts the powers that be to do some soul-searching. Further look at how Zambians relate to one another. Is it civil?

      60

      0
    • The problem is when you even appoint fake Prof like Luo, the senior sex worker who could only ban Student Unions making the Universities simple colleges – in reality Boarding Schools with Luke as Head Master.

      10

      23
    • Chilyata: This is the problem. When did Nkandu Luo become a senior sex worker? Granted she has lots of weaknesses but surely she’s no sex worker. Stick to what is valid. We’re discussing a serious subject. Flippancy won’t do.

      46

      2
    • This type of thinking is retrogressive and contributes retardation in every aspect the country is embarking on.This all shows that people have no time to read informative articles. Let’s change our mentality. This Zambia and non Zambian will develop it but Zambians themselves.Criticism without practical suggestions is damag

      11

      0
    • This type of thinking is retrogressive. No wonder the country is full educated illiterates who only interested in abridged writings This is what Prof Luo is trying to do with higher education, but every one against her.The lecturers, students and the citizens are to blame. They want short cuts. Universities in Zambia have become high schools due to compromising standards!!!

      10

      0
    • When UNZA criticised ZIALE for accepting students from Cavendish who had just done 3 years there was a public outcry.
      This is a national scandal and an embarrassing one!
      So all of you from these so called new universities is just a donkey .
      Check if your university is accredited by CABS ; AMBA etc

      6

      0
    • Under Quality of Learning environment the author forgot one important factor namely that of academic freedom. A university can only produce quality graduates if it has academic freedom. However, the University of Zambia doesn’t protect academic freedom instead it is in cahoots with government to oppress academic freedom.
      Many a time the Vice Chancellor is in the forefront of silencing UNZA Radio when he orders that a certain guest not be interviewed because State House has instructed him so. When Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga threatened to close the Radio station because of its guests, the VC offered no defence.

      8

      1
    • Very valid points. However the reality of the situation in Zambia is everyone is just out to PULL HIM/ HER DOWN (PHD). We make life so difficult for one another. Research, publications and innovations leading to practical inventions are hampered by lack of coordination within various departments and faculties at these institutions where egos tend to rule. There are a multitude of Cambridge and Oxford dons and Professors in their 30s who will never use the title of Dr or Prof and they never bother to show off their PhDs because, “the substance is in the action and not the perception”. Educational institutions are not entirely to blame, the govt and its instutional framework has been a let down, one practical example being the process of getting a Patent in this country from Pacra is a…

      2

      1
    • Ctn…Educational institutions are not entirely to blame, the govt and its instutional framework has been a let down, one practical example being the process of getting a Patent in this country from Pacra is an exercise in futility as these worms will frustrate you out of sheer envy.

      3

      0
  2. Outraged? Can you compare Zimbabwean education with Zambian? Get real… Pull up your socks…

    20

    6
  3. The author is absolutely correct that is what Minister Nkandu Luo has been saying but the problem at UNZA is we majority inbuilt UNZA lecturers who are not performers but just interested in confusions and inciting students to riot and getting paid for doing nothing

    16

    11
    • As usual sponsored UPND sycophants and zealots and enemies of progress will deny my honest assessment

      10

      20
    • All professors I have met in Zambia and elsewhere have been polite and respect difference of opinion. They all loved a good argument even if they do disagree with it, they just politely express their disagreement. All of them were like that except one. This site LT is one example of why our universities have been down-graded. There are just too many insults. Sharon the PF troll, I do not know why she cannot be charged for promoting tribal hatred.

      16

      2
    • And did you read comments from a lecturer called Mr. Webster Hamweete when the girl died at UNZA.? He started accusing the president ECL that it was him to blame. How..? This how shallow some UNZA lecturers who are busy playing partisan politics are instead of doing their work. Lecturer Webster Hamweete should actually appreciate our humble republic president, Edgar Chagwa Lungu that he is a very good and God’s fearing man.

      11

      28
    • Ding: “And you read comments from a lecturer called Webster Mamweete when the girl died at UNZA?” Did she die or she was killed?

      8

      1
    • Fwanya,you remind me of fwanya of Orbit magazine and love you stand. Prof Luo is right, but some are very destructive. How can employees command

      1

      0
  4. There are certainly many other measures one can look at, but just by looking at the above 10, we can see why some universities rank poorly than others. What we also need to appreciate is that these measures are concerned with ‘International Ranking’, rather than local in-country ranking. A university can be the top university in Zambia but would be No. 50 in Africa and No. 5578 in the world. This does not mean that it is not the best, for best, like beauty, is relative.

    6

    0
  5. UNZA is grossly overrated.

    Why do Zambians think everything in zed is among the best in the world? They are so so wrong.

    26

    2
    • Indeed it is overrated by most Zambians. There was a time when it was good, these days it’s not. CBU in my opinion is better than UNZA. UNZA has no academic freedom, whilst CBU has.
      I have a younger brother who at UNZA was suspended for challenging a lecturer.

      14

      3
  6. I have always said it. Zambians and many Africans only use education to get a good job and not to innovate. We even allow our children to be manipulated by desperate politicians into unnecessary but fatal riots which lead to frequent closures. Let’s admit that we the people and our governments have completely failed.

    18

    3
  7. We shall link our universities to china,Its just some kind of reactions by these colonial masters, because of our good ties with China.Our education system is the best in southern Africa.No wonder we perform better abroad at their universities.Personally I crushed them in their own arena, they offered me a Job and a PHD which I declined, cause I deemed it as waste of time, i couldnt wait to come back home.

    8

    13
  8. Spot on Moono.There is so much ignorance my dear brother in this country partly because of lack of exposure and poor reading culture.I get attacked for 3,000 word educative articles because of ignorance of not knowing the difference between news,features and analysis.Some are attacking you for your well deserved qualifications and length of such a short educative article.Thanks for the extra knowledge.Keep it up!

    29

    1
    • Right on Kalima Nkonde!In fact the author is wrote it in a sober balanced manner! Some Zambians just want to hear negatives.The situation our in is historical, dating back to 1964!Botswana was nothing by then,but their founding fathers embarked on economic growth unlike us who embarked on freedom for our neighbouring countries! Even Malawi was became better than ud

      5

      0
  9. Herryman Moono we dont need to reinvent the wheel,there is already too much researched articles and publications already on internet, what we need is application of these research to alleviate our problems.
    ,there is already too much knowledge, be like the Chinese who copy the existing knowledge and implement it.We need results.

    7

    8
  10. Jokes aside, we are in a crisis, its practically impossible to do research at these universities because of lack of proper infrastructures and equipment’s. Our labs are just buildings with brick walls with no equipment at all.Most of the things taught is just theory no practical feel because of our labs.

    14

    0
    • What equipment do you need when you’re studying ichikwakwa. Library studies doesn’t require a lab.

      5

      4
    • This is so because we depend on foreign aid.We don’t want to pay for service. You can’t develop in this way.When asked to back the loan you got and that useless political leader terms it as being victimized. That is free education policy can’t work!

      3

      0
  11. With lecturers like Mbozi, a university can definitely be downgraded. Instead of researching, the chap went on an insulting and tribal yap

    7

    5
    • And lecturer Webster Hamweete is a full time paid up UPND cadre. Some lecturers must be blacklisted as they are busy incite students on party and tribal lines. They are a danger to society and the nation as large.

      8

      4
  12. Work at one of the university what the guy is saying is the truth when graduates come for attachment they are blank they don’t even have the concepts. The biggest problem is that we are not considering certificate or diploma if anyone has these papers they are considered uneducated but surprisingly they perform better than straight out degree students that’s why we have a lot of universities now, we were better with unza and cbu, but when these new ones come the standard has dropped, even at unza and cbu.

    7

    1
  13. The British system was based on A levels entry and Honours degree. This explains why Zambian high school graduates need to complete A levels before admission to undergraduate degree programs in British universities. At undergraduate level, British universities may offer Bachelors (General) but strictly Bachelors (Honours) is the requirement for admission postgraduate studies. The debates concerning the merits of A levels entry to university compared to O levels entry to university show that an element of emotion and sentiment based on tradition is also interfering. Asking the question: ‘is it a Honours degree or not’ also tends to confuse pro British university system proponents as opposed to pro American university system supporters.

    5

    1
    • Great question! The suggestion that UNZA graduates cannot enter Oxford without Masters is raising the Bachelors Honours degree issue. Without Honours, then the applicants will be excluded from Matsres study programs, even if the Bachelors General was classified Distinction or Merit. The Commonwealth universities are not as ‘uniform’ as Francophone universities. It is possible to seek admission at a different university within the Commonwealth. As for university rankings, the criteria listed was quite accurate. Presence of faculty staff with qualifications from world-class universities is critical. Journal articles reporting findings by funded research partnerships across institutional, national, continental boundaries play a critical role in ranking.

      9

      1
    • Quality of graduates can be assessed in many ways. At the work place, the issue customer satisfaction is critical. My experience showed that various factors intervened, including family background, social class, communication skills, IQ, etc. When confronted with a graduate from University of Lusaka in a commercial context, the result was total satisfaction. But it does not mean UNZA cannot give total satisfaction. It simply means, time has come to open up to private universities.

      5

      1
    • The education system in Northern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia being a British colony was based on the British education system. Thus in Form IV you sat for your O levels and A levels in Form VI. However, around 1966 Zambia abolished the Form VI A levels and replaced them with O levels obtained in Form V, not in Form IV. Because of this, the duration of degree courses was extended by one year. Thus an engineering course which takes four year in Britain took five years at UNZA. Those with A levels proceeded straight to second year. I believe this was the recommendation of the Lockwood Commission which was given the task of establishing a university in Zambia. The first year covers subjects which are covered at A level and for my engineering degree course I took Physics, Chemistry,…

      0

      0
    • Cont’d. The first year covers subjects which are covered at A level and for my engineering degree course I took Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, English and African Studies. Unza had very high calibre lecturers and most of us from that era had no problem in doing post graduate studies abroad. The quality of education has fallen right down starting from primary education. Copy and pest instead of copy and paste and unfortunately the spell check cannot distinguish between pest and paste because they are both correct spellings but they mean different things are the order of the day.

      1

      0
  14. The problem is with Students. Some one can not tel me that these student they dont have resources for research year in year out. When they are given money what they do is just drinking beer, humanizing, and looking for they way to riot. Our Universities have been turned into Political field battle. Each and every Politician look at Universities as the of their Political goals. If things are not okay they rush to sponsor the students to Riot and it has been a trend from Chiluba’s Government till now. Even us citizen we have made the University Students big headed to misbehave and later on degrade our institutions.

    5

    4
  15. Agree with Author, there is empirical evidence, check this out,in medicine Dr so & so is hands on,in engineering Eng.so & so are in offices,while Eng.china is hands on,this is Zambia for you.

    11

    0
  16. This is strictly an economic decision that goes further than a mere institutional (Oxford University) policy to trigger higher national revenue. Educational income from overseas has been amongst the highest spinners of revenue for UK for virtually decades. Imagine, how many will now abandon local university prospects for external accredited institutions. Knowledge application is the matter, however! It is a waste of time to complain about this reclassification of local Universities by Oxford. Its within their right! Imagine how many billions of dollars flow from poor africa to UK in order for these poor africans to meet UK set standards. Think of the yearly subscriptions to UK professional bodies e.g acca, cima, and how much african government spend sending students to UK – BILLIONS OF…

    2

    0
  17. The trick is that if Africans discover that they can set their own standards, that tap will dry! How long are we going to look down on ourselves to our detriment? I for one, I am proud of my very cheap education obtained in the streets of survival. I dont need no PHD to make my welding machine? I have google!!!!! hehehe

    2

    0
  18. The downgrading is from what year? I find this to be very crude and unfair to those that may have picked their qualifications before the reclassification. My argument is that if 10 years ago, UNZA was regarded a University and i got my qualification then, why would my qualification be affected by the reclassification of 2018?

    1

    0
    • As if your knowledge will be downgraded as well? Why worry, why bother? Why do you what their approval so much? At this rate, you will be asking for their approval to live.

      0

      0
  19. Nigerians! Nigerians! spend lifetime savings to send their sons and daughters to Uk universities. Talk about Government budgetary allocations from across the whole africa to send students to UK for those COVETED accredited degrees. This they do because theirs is not good enough. SAD no! ludicrous!

    2

    0
  20. This topic is a sad eye opener of how self debasing and broken we have become as Africans. I say, No university or Human set standard will limit how high I can soar.

    2

    1
  21. Just reorganize your education system to tackle the challenges we face on a daily basis. We need Universities to tap into research and development but we also need to complement our universities with other tertiary education systems such as trade schools and colleges. Zambia badly needs specialist colleges in areas such as building and construction, electricians, plumbing, landscaping, crafts etc. ZCAS is a fine example but we need to diversify to plug the gap in areas where we are short of highly skilled individuals. Our workmanship is terrible, you just have to look at some of the structures mushrooming in our towns and cities.

    5

    0
  22. Yes, I was saying that how employees demand the dismissal of s fellow employee. This is what has brought standards down st both cbu and unza for many years! Nkandu Luo is a quality prof and researcher. Currently she is fit for this Ministry of higher education!

    1

    1
  23. Thank you for your highlights on the university rankings Mr Moono.
    This clearly indicates that we need to allow our universities to focus on educating our students and producing quality research. To do this, they will need to be funded on time and adequately.
    We therefore need to prioritise education and start striving not only to be the best in the region and but also be the most innovative on the continent. This could be achieved through a five years turn around program agreed by all stakeholders and led by our dedicated professionals.. it is very much achievable!

    2

    0
  24. good observation alimwi.sharon can not debate or write something sensible but just fool of hate speech!

    0

    0
  25. Keep your oxford standards and all we will go to China,India ,Canada and USA…has anything good come out of our former colonial masters (UK).??

    2

    0
  26. I think for a research to be conducted,l and yield good results,it requires proper funding. In the case of our Universities, mmmmmmmm,

    1

    1
  27. If you look at the numbers, it is evident UNZA needs to improve. It is more like a community college than a national university. What’s the research output and direct contribution to GDP that UNZA makes?

    3

    0
  28. The social, economic and political environment you have at any given time (especially in Africa) and whether there is actual political will to enhance and respect the value of education, affects it’s quality. Ask yourselves why once upon a time UNZA was top class and now it is not. Nothing much to do with students as some of you have suggested. Students react to what is before them in most cases.
    What is our current educational policy? I could ask a similar question about whether we have an agricultural policy, for example – I mean a proper one.

    1

    1
  29. Thus what us Zambians want, the qualities of certificate we have is absolutely all as the results of leakages. The reason being is, abusing of offices by government officials. Those working from examination council of Zambia (ECZ) there the one responsible of distributing the leakages. Not everyone but, those who lack knowledge.

    0

    0
  30. Right on Kalima Nkonde!In fact the author is wrote it in a sober balanced manner! Some Zambians just want to hear negatives.The situation our in is historical, dating back to 1964!Botswana was nothing by then,but their founding fathers embarked on economic growth unlike us who embarked on freedom for our neighbouring countries! Even Malawi was became better than ud

    1

    0
  31. Hunger and greed has put us where we are today. It will take years to reverse.
    I have seen reports written by students from a Teachers college based in Kitwe. The spelling and grammar was saddening.
    Let’s discuss without name calling.

    1

    0
  32. About 40% of Zambian graduates were educated abroad including the writer/author whose post graduate programs are clearly stated. We have doctors and engineers educated in Russia, India, UK or Europe as well as the USA. what have you guys invented or researched which you can be proud of other than insulting your colleagues at UNZA or Paul mushino university? For all i know, the course outlines are the same for equivalent programs whether locally acquired or abroad. Don’t tell us what they have achieved, tell us what you have achieved.

    2

    0
  33. what’s in a name?
    you can call it what you want, but when it’s all said and done, what really matters is what you can do after you go through those institutions.
    if graduates from the ivy league schools weren’t able to be gainfully employed or make a decent living using their brains, what good would those schools be?
    so it doesn’t really matter what unza is called, what matters is how are the graduates doing after they leave the institution?
    in Zambia you guys like these titles too much, same way you like dressing up in ties and jackets when it’s really not necessary. I had a debate about the many so called universities that have sprung up all over the place in Zambia, some argued that if stats show that Zambia has x # of universities then it’s at par with (pick a…

    0

    0
  34. Sometimes we should learn to accept and acknowledge that something is wrong. The author is on spot. Accepting is the beginning of solving an issue. Somethings is wrong with our universities. Why can’t we just try to fix it?

    1

    0

Comments are closed.