The ongoing summit of the BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa - is set to tackle the launch of a fresh global university ranking system. This move is prompted by concerns that the current ranking methodologies disproportionately favour Western universities, leaving institutions from emerging economies underrepresented.
The primary objective of the summit is to address the perceived lack of impartiality in existing university rankings. In a united front, the education ministers of these nations convened last month, expressing their commitment to creating an alternative ranking system. They voiced criticism against the current rankings, citing bias towards institutions in the global north and the imposition of disproportionate costs on developing nations' universities.
The proposed alternative system places a premium on research quality over quantity and emphasizes the integration of indigenous knowledge and cultural diversity. The education ministers' joint statement underscores the importance of acknowledging universities' diverse contributions to inclusive global development and fostering international cooperation and solidarity.
Critics have long argued that the dominance of Western universities in the current rankings is a result of structural advantages and a focus on student-centric approaches. The envisioned BRICS rankings aim to address the concerns of developing nations, potentially offering a more comprehensive representation of universities from these regions.
The discontent with existing ranking systems has led several institutions, including seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), to boycott global rankings due to transparency issues. The proposed alternative ranking system from BRICS nations seeks to bridge this gap and provide a more inclusive evaluation of universities on a global scale.
The summit's overarching theme, "BRICS and Africa," underscores the collective influence of these nations, representing a staggering 43% of the world's population and 16% of global trade. As leaders converge to reshape global dynamics, the introduction of a new university ranking system aligns with their broader goal of establishing a more balanced and equitable global order.
In a world striving for equitable representation, the BRICS initiative signifies a proactive stride towards recognizing and valuing the contributions of universities beyond the Western hemisphere. This move has the potential to foster a more comprehensive understanding of the diverse strengths and offerings of higher education across economies at varying stages of development.
Article by Nyokabi Wanjiku