Top Tanzanian universities lag in global rankings as Kenya and Uganda lead the way

What you need to know:

  • Despite positive local rankings, Tanzanian higher education institutions lag behind on the continental and global stages.

Dar es Salaam. Tanzanian universities' quest for global recognition appears to be an elusive pursuit, with recent rankings placing them significantly lower than their East African counterparts.

The University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), the country's flagship institution, holds the 37th position in Africa, according to the 2024 rankings released by UniRank, a globally recognised higher education portal.

Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), ranked second and third nationally, stand at 79th and 89th positions, respectively, on the continent.

Meanwhile, the University of Dodoma (UDOM) and the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) are positioned at 123rd and 174th in Africa, respectively, standing as the fourth and fifth nationally.

Comparatively, in the East African region, the University of Nairobi (Kenya) secures the seventh spot continentally, followed by Makerere University (Uganda) at 16th position, and Kenyatta University (Kenya) at 28th.

Strathmore University, ranked 31st in Africa, becomes fourth in East Africa, while UDSM closes the top five in the region.

Global recognition signifies excellence, innovation, and academic prowess for universities, according to experts.

Despite positive local rankings, Tanzanian higher education institutions lag behind on the continental and global stages, as highlighted by the UniRank report.

A renowned education expert, Dr Amos Majure, stressed the importance of global visibility in attracting attention and fostering academic advancement as he spoke to The Citizen on Saturday, February 17, 2024.

He emphasised the need for Tanzanian universities to benchmark against international standards and best practices to enhance their international reputation.

A digital education strategist, Dr Grace Mbeki, highlighted the need for Tanzanian universities to leverage digital platforms and online resources to expand their presence globally.

She emphasised investing in social media engagement, website optimisation, and virtual outreach programmes to reach a wider audience.

A consultant with the Global Partners for Education (GPE), Ms Mariana Malisa, advocated for strategic collaborations with renowned international institutions to facilitate knowledge exchange and research collaboration.

She emphasised forging partnerships with leading academic institutions worldwide to tap into global networks for collaborative projects and faculty development initiatives.

English proficiency among faculty and students was underscored as crucial for effective communication and scholarly engagement on the international stage.

Ms Malisa stressed the importance of English language training programmes to equip faculty and students with the necessary linguistic skills for global academia.

An expert in curriculum development, Dr Fatma Maziku, emphasised the importance of diversifying academic programmes and embracing interdisciplinary approaches to tackle contemporary global challenges.

She urged Tanzanian universities to foster a culture of innovation and collaboration to attract students and researchers from around the world.

Despite challenges, UDSM, SUA, MUHAS, and UDOM have been making efforts to enhance their global standing through various initiatives.

UDSM, for example, has renewed partnerships and invested in infrastructure to transform into a "SMART CAMPUS.

"With high-speed internet, we are poised to revolutionise teaching, research, and public services, propelling UDSM towards greater effectiveness and efficiency," said UDSM’s Vice Chancellor, Prof William Anangisye.

However, an expert in rankings, Mr Juma Byemela, cautioned against loopholes in the ranking process, suggesting that universities need to focus on accurate information dissemination to improve their standings.

UniRank's criteria necessitate universities to be officially recognised and accredited, offering traditional face-to-face learning formats through on-site facilities.

The ranked universities must be officially licensed or authorised to grant at least three-year undergraduate degrees (bachelor's degrees) and/or postgraduate degrees (master's and doctoral degrees).

The portal currently does not include two-year degree-granting institutions such as community colleges, vocational colleges, training colleges, or distance learning institutions.

It doesn’t consider niche higher education institutions such as seminaries and other theological higher-education institutions or military or law enforcement higher-education institutions.