It is not the usual management practice of the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (UNAAB), to resort to rejoinder in correcting media misrepresentation. This tradition is precipitated against several denominators, one of which is the fact that the institution enjoys a leading and mutually healthy relationship with the media, among contemporaries and also the appreciation of the Herculean task of practicing crisp journalism against the realities of our peculiar socio-cultural setting.
The University was almost constrained to shift on this tradition when a national daily erroneously reported, through a feature titled World Ranking: Same Old Story for Nigerian Universities, where it was reported that UNAAB was rated 8th in Nigeria and 7,617th in the world.
It initially looked cynical as the report was credited to an authentic source, therefore raising question as to the genuine intention of the article. The error started with the paper attributing the best ranked University in Nigeria to the University of Ilorin, followed by the University of Jos, University of Nigeria, Nsukka and the University of Lagos, for 2nd to 4th, in that order. The report also allocated 5th to 7th positions to the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the National Open University, respectively.
We were about informing our media friends of this gaffe, when two others, came out with other diverging versions of the world ranking. Gladly though, one was able to get an accurate bearing (but for a slight hitch in the global placement of University of Ibadan).
The initial reaction of UNAAB was to correct the misrepresentation and place the records in proper perspective as to the impressive strides of UNAAB regarding this issue. Afterall, nobody relishes being denied its due recognition, particularly, where energies were sapped to achieve uncommon feat. The University, however, felt a stronger responsibility in helping Nigerians to appreciate the accurate representation of the web ranking, particularly our stakeholders, who toil endlessly to achieve excellence. UNAAB might not be occupying the first position presently, but those that carefully follow our exploits reserve no doubt as to our doggedness in taking steady strides to stardom.
Not a few of our associates were embarrassed by the myriad of wrongful reportage of the ranking exercise. Hence, it was imperative that the facts of the global ranking, at least on the part of the nation’s Universities be appropriately expressed in order to check likely bandwagon effects of quoting from wrong sources.
Going back to the issue at hand, the world universities webometrics ranking is a periodic exercise that can be accessed on www.webometrics.info. It is coordinated by Cybermetrics Lab, a research group affiliated to the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Spain. The latest study indicated that 12,010 out of over 20,000 world universities were rated, with their performances further expressed along continent and country’s strength.
The University of Ibadan led the nation’s pack, polling 3,499th in the world and 41st in Africa. UI is closely followed by the University of llorin, ABU and OAU, rated 42nd to 44th, respectively.
Not too distant away is UNAAB, globally rated 4,833rd and not 7,617th as inadvertently claimed. The institution is 60th in the whole of Africa and 7th, not 8th, in Nigeria.
As a friend of mine would jokingly retort on friendly enquiry of his well-being, ‘’It is okay, but can be better’’. Likewise, the Universities might not be too boisterous of their present ratings, but it will amount to a disservice to just casually wave them away like a pack of under-achievers. I thought it is still a common parlance that Rome was not built in a day. Therefore, some measures of appreciation would not be too much, considering the fact that Nigerian varsities alone were able to grab ten slots of the total figure of 100 healthy higher institutions across Africa.
Such feat had, at least in our experience, far and few between times that Nigerian varsities had mustered the strength to break into the global league. If current stimuli appear to be achieving previously elusive exploits, who then say such could not do with some massaging?