The beautiful and magnificent MUST Campus at Goliati
* This is a motivation and inspirational in just nine years since it opened its doors and has already gained a reputation
* For impacting Malawi’s education in teaching, research and social benefits
By Duncan Mlanjira & Victor Singano Jnr
Times Higher Education, the Sub-Saharan Africa University Rankings, has rated Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) as 29th best university in Sub-Saharan Africa in its inaugural 2023 rankings — thus giving it the rank of best in Malawi.
It is a feat that MUST Vice Chancellor, Professor Address Malata describes it as a motivation and inspirational in just nine years since it opened its doors and has already gained a reputation for impacting Malawi’s education in teaching, research and social benefits.
MUST’s webpage quotes Times Higher Education as saying the Sub-Saharan Africa University Rankings have been developed specifically to assess the impact of universities in addressing some of the toughest challenges faced in the region.
The statement said it is using “carefully calibrated indicators to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons across three vital areas — teaching, research and societal impact”.
“The data include results from the first sub-Saharan Africa student survey, which gathered the opinions of more than 20,000 students.”
It further says “the development work for the ranking was undertaken in consultation with university leaders across sub-Saharan Africa, in a project initiated by a consortium of African and international higher education organizations and companies, which included Botho, Maverick and Mycos”.
“The project was led by Ashesi University in Ghana, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation. Times Higher Education independently managed all data collection and calculations and this first edition ranks 88 universities across 20 countries.
“An additional 33 institutions are listed because they provided data but did not meet our eligibility criteria to receive a rank.”
The MUST webpage quotes Prof. Malata as saying this “is not only an honour but humbling as well, considering MUST has well competitors who have been around for decades”.
“We are just nine years old and we started from scratch and yet we have colleagues on the market that are far much older than us. Even at regional level, those that have been ranked ahead of us have been around much longer.
“Our challenge going forward is to maintain our high standards and improve on our service offering in all aspects,” she is quoted as saying.
Based at Goliati in Thyolo District, MUST has been very innovative over the past few years, whose services even caters for young students even for those not under its campus learning.
One such innovation is the hosting of African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA) training whose 2023 programme graduated 29 local and international students.
ADDA is a joint programme with UNICEF Malawi and Virginia Tech of the United States of America, which is a pioneer initiative with a main objective is to drill African youths in drone manufacturing piloting and data collection as well as analysis for development in various sectors.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony last week, Prof. Malata said as the world is living in digital era where technology has become a major tool for development, the drone technologies are very important as they play various crucial role in many sectors and all social economic development for every country.
Malata emphasized that for every country to develop, there is a need to have drone technology which is easily used to compile data science.
She, therefore, requested government and private sectors to embrace the use of drones by providing opportunities for trainings for drones being offered by MUST to their staff members as one way of equiping them with knowledge which can be beneficial to their companies.”
The training gathered students from Zambia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and the hosts Malawi, and Malata added that this should tell the local organisations “how important drones trainings are because currently MUST is the first and only University in Africa which is offering these trainings apart from USA where they have about four universities doing similar program.”
Two years ago, MUST launched Endowment Fund through which companies are investing into to cater for supporting underprivileged but deserving students.
And in its endeavour to inspire and promote girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) academic subjects, MUST organizes a Girls Science Camp every year in which selected candidates engage with phenomenal women, who have excelled in STEM.
This was initiated in cognizance that for the country to achieve inclusively wealthy and self-reliant nation agenda — as enshrined in MW2063 national vision — science has to be one of the key drivers and more importantly, girls have to be involved.
Last year, MUST charted a new path in the history of the country’s tertiary education by launching the first of its kind academic journal, Advances in Science & Arts — which provides high quality, reviewed, open access infrastructure for scholarly articles and other products of research and development.
The journal was established as a response to the MUST’s vision, mission and strategic objectives, whose Vision is to be a world class center of science and technology education, research and entrepreneurship.
The Advances in Science and Arts journal complements the vision of the Directorate of Research and Outreach, which is to become world class center of excellence in research and outreach.
The strategies to achieve this vision include conducting high quality research by both faculty and students; translating the research results into evidence based policy and translating the research results into evidence based curricula.
The Journal is also aimed at providing a platform for networking and sharing of research results with the global scientific community and to increase MUST’s visibility, nationally, regionally and globally through e-journal infrastructure.
These are several of the initiatives that Times Higher Education used to rank MUST on the list is led by South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand; University of Johannesburg was second; Muhimbili University of Health & Allied Sciences in Tanzania as third; University Pretoria fourth while Makerere University from Uganda has been ranked as fifth best university.
According Times Higher Education two-thirds of participating universities are public institutions; a quarter are private, not-for-profit organizations; and a 10th are private, for-profit organizations.
Times Higher Education’s mission is to be the definitive source of data, insight and expertise on higher education worldwide and the organization’s business is built on 10 million data points from 2,500 institutions in 93 countries; on unrivalled news, insight and intelligence; and on a relationship of trust with universities spanning 50 years.