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Morocco leads Africa in ‘young universities’ ranking

Morocco's University of Marrakech Cadi Ayyad is the only African establishment to break into the Times Higher Education's top 100 ranking of universities that are 50 years old or younger.

The university was ranked in joint 59th place in the world alongside George Mason University in the US, Linköping University in Sweden and the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.

The ranking, released on 29 April, contains universities from 28 countries. South Africa, which houses Africa’s highest-placed universities in most general rankings, does not feature in the top 100. Only former polytechnics in the country were eligible for inclusion.

Other strong African universities such as Makerere University in Uganda, the University of Ghana and Kenya’s University of Nairobi were too old to claim a spot on the list.

Nigeria has a wealth of universities that are eligible for the rankings, like the University of Ilorin, the University of Port Harcourt, Lagos State University and the Federal University of Technology, Akure. But none made the top 100.

The ‘100 under 50’ list is compiled using the same criteria as the THE World University Rankings. It shows a greater diversity at the top end of the table, which is traditionally dominated by institutions from the UK and the US.

South Korea and the US were represented most in the top 10, with two universities apiece. The top position went to Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Australia jumped to the head of the pack overall, with the most universities on the list in total.

“Without the trappings of tradition, the accumulated wealth or the generations of alumni to act as brand ambassadors, these youngsters have been able to make a big impression in a short space of time. They serve as powerful examples for others to follow,” said Phil Baty, THE rankings editor, in a statement.

The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) bloc of developing nations, which has its own dedicated THE ranking, didn’t fare so well. Only Brazil managed to land a university in the top 100.