USL RANKED WITHIN THE TOP 25 UNIVERSITIES IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
The USL Crest
In what appears to be an unprecedented success in the contemporary history of higher education in Sierra Leone; the Times Higher Education has ranked the University of Sierra Leone in the 23rd position out of One Hundred in its Sub-Saharan University Rankings 2023 with an overall score of 60.6.
In West Africa, the University of Sierra Leone is 5th in the ranking with Covenant University (Nigeria) in 7th position and Ashesi University, Academic City University College, and the University of Ghana (all three in Ghana) in the 9th, 15th & 17th positions respectively.
The Times Higher Education website states that: “the methodology for the rankings was developed through extensive engagement with university leaders across the region, under a project initiated by a consortium of African and international higher education organisations…,” adding that: “the ranking follows a hybrid methodology to account for the diverse strengths of the sector; unlike our other rankings which tend to focus on one mission, it covers elements of teaching, impact and research”.
Moreover, it is important to note that the Times Higher Education’s “overall methodology explores five key areas” otherwise known as “pillars”. They are resources and finances; access and fairness; teaching skills; student engagement, and African impact. The latter pillar, which comprises African research citations, African research co-authorship, and policy and law-makers outreach and education, being rated comparatively highly. The website also notes that the “data collected for this ranking includes data provided directly by universities (continuous data as well as evidence data, which follows the logic of the data we collect in our Impact Rankings), data collected from current students (as part of the student survey) and data supplied by our partner Elsevier (bibliometrics data)”.
According to the ranking team, the “student survey is a first in sub-Saharan Africa, collecting the opinions of more than 20,000 students from 88 institutions”.
As to how the USL was featured in the higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa ranking after some years of forlornness, the USL Director of Strategic Planning and Quality Assurance, David Gbao pointed out that, “leadership” made the difference. He said when the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Brig. Gen. Prof. Foday Sahr, received communication from the team of the Times Higher Education for Sub-Saharan Africa asking for a submission from the University of Sierra Leone, he wasted no time in putting together a team to work on providing the requisite data to the ranking team. Mr Gbao noted that collaborative efforts with the USL Registry and the deputy registrars of the three constituent colleges of the University and all Directorates contributed to creating such visibility for USL.
“For us to be rated within the top 5% of institutions in the sub-region is hugely encouraging and reflects the wonderful expertise, teaching, and research we have here at USL; our community of staff and students, should be proud of these results,” Mr Gbao who led the USL Ranking Project noted.
USL’s top ranking among Sub-Saharan Universities has resulted largely from several years of “re-engineering” endeavours under the leadership of the current VC&P which have seen significant reforms, transformation, and improvements in academic as well as administrative activities in areas such as the curricula, research, learning pathways and increasing access and diversity of programmes, pedagogy training for staff, technology, student support services including disability and gender issues.
The Registrar of the University of Sierra Leone, Olive Kash Barrie has this to say about the University’s impressive ranking: “this current improved ranking is the direct result of the recent re-engineering drive of the University of Sierra Leone initiated by the Prof Sahr-led administration. Prof Sahr, as current Vice Chancellor & Principal, embarked on this drive to fulfill the mandate of the University to address the contemporary needs of its society by restructuring its courses and its operations and, by beginning to make visible the university’s achievements.”
Dilating on the recent strides of the University, she noted that “USL has always striven to be relevant to society, but it had also been a traditionally conservative institution, which did not believe in trumpeting its great achievements. USL has had many achievements. A fairly recent one being (in collaboration with overseas partners) the production of two WHO-approved Ebola vaccines which were used in the ring-vaccination in Guinea-Conakry and in the Democratic Republic of Congo to curb Ebola outbreaks. On the back of that, the University of Sierra Leone currently has an approved Clinical Trial site in Kambia (SL), where with other research partners, our researchers are involved in several clinical trials including the current Malaria Vaccine Trial”.
The Registrar also pointed out that “USL is proud to bring to the public its products, adding that the average USL graduate will always be in the top 30% of his/her class in any postgraduate course in which s/he registers globally and of these, we boast of a number of valedictorians as well”.