Beyond Rankings:

Defining Success for an African University

A measurement system for Africa should prioritize the continent’s development. A higher education institution’s success should be determined by how it actions and outcomes contribute to moving the continent’s development forward. 

Defining Metrics for African Higher Education Ranking


The 2019 Education Collaborative Annual Convening featured an executive conference with vice-chancellors, presidents, directors, deans, and governance teams from 10 universities across the continent. They engaged each other on developing institutional competencies for data-driven strategy and collaboration in the face of exponential population growth, technology, and globalization.

Central to these conversations was developing a university ranking system for African universities.

 Led by a panel discussion, their conversations highlighted how Africa could benefit from a context-specific ranking system inclined towards the development of ethics and leadership, industry, entrepreneurship, employment opportunities, and community outreach programs. Such a measurement system would revolve around the continents development, and institutional success would be measured by how actions and outcomes contribute to the continents development.






Next Steps and Roadmap

The Education Collaborative has partnered with a consulting consortium, led by Maverick Research to develop an index that measures university performance. It is underpinned by a customized online survey platform and data visualization dashboard that measures university performance as a tool for both parents and prospective students to make informed decisions. The index helps both parents and prospective students to make informed decisions and comprises  variable indicators including but not limited to:

    1. Quality of teaching and educational outcomes
    2. Employment/employability and other labor market outcomes
    3. Campus safety and inclusion
    4. Quality of student life and student retention
    5. Adherence to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and pertinent aspects of the AUs Agenda 2063
    6. Relevance of research to national and regional development objectives

Working Goals


  • Develop a framework of quality indicators to guide stakeholders on university performance 
  • Focus on ranking performance on a national and regional scale over global 
  • Create concrete, collaborative linkages and touch points with the broader ecosystem, especially the public sector and industry 


  • Highlight educational outcomes by connecting them with quality of life 
  • Highlight research and teaching as not a zero-sum game  
  • Connect research objectives to specific developmental agendas 
  • Provide quantitative and qualitative proxies for quality of teaching 

With 1600 universities in Africa, we hope 50-60 universities can participate in the premier rollout with steady growth to approximately 120-160 participants in 10 years. This is a 10% participatory goal benchmarked against the global goal. 


    2022 Updates 

    • The ranking system was opened in August-September 2022 after consulting with stakeholders within the four SSA Regions. 
    • Pioneer Sub-Saharan University Ranking is on course for a 2023 spring announcement.   
    • 157 universities have registered, with a target of 50 more expected to complete submissions for ranking by the October deadline.  

    2023 Updates

    • Times Higher Education Sub-Saharan Forum
      Held in partnership with the Education Collaborative, the forum will focus on how universities in the region can deliver transformational teaching and research, ensure sustainable opportunities for their students as well as graduates, and improve citizenship across the continent.


    • Official launch of Sub-Saharan ranking system
      Building on the initial groundwork by a consortium of African and international higher educational organizations, and in consultation with university leaders from across Sub-Saharan Africa, Times Higher Education developed the methodology and performed the underlying data collection and analysis in developing the ranking system. The MasterCard Foundation also served as a key partner to THE in developing the ranking system.

    Consulting Consortium