Libyan universities have not been included in international university rankings, in part because of the conflict and political fluctuations the country has witnessed since 2011.
But now some government institutions are developing a new local ranking for public and private universities to increase the competition among academic institutions and strengthen the concept of educational quality.
In September, the National Center for Quality Assurance and Accreditation of the Libyan Ministry of Higher Education created a guide for university rankings according to criteria related to conducting research, educational performance, their presence in international rankings, the quality of their websites and their scientific impact on the local community. The ministry is part of the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli.
“The ranking helps Libyan universities work within quality assurance standards,” said Salma Abdul-Karim Bukhatwa, dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy at Libyan International Medical University, a private university in Benghazi. Bukhatwa is a member of the national committee that helped create the guide. “This will help develop academic and educational services and help them to return to being included in international rankings,” she said.
The development of a local guide is viewed by government officials as a step toward enhancing academic quality. Licensing a university or opening a new academic institution requires a long and complicated series of procedures in most Arab countries, including Libya, as any new university is subject to government laws and strict regulations.
Once a license to open a university has been granted in many Arab countries, though, the monitoring and maintaining of the quality of higher education institutions does not appear to be as strict or clear. Research carried out by Al-Fanar Media in 2017 found that the mechanisms for verifying the quality of educational services and ensuring compliance with licensing conditions are weak and in many cases do not even exist. (See a related article, “A Regional Survey: How Arab Countries Regulate Quality in Higher Education.”)
In Libya, the new guide is designed to have the country’s public and private universities compete across five criteria. Thirty-five percent of a university’s score in the rankings is set by its standards for teaching and learning; 30 percent is knowledge output; 15 percent is society and environmental service; 7 percent is the international dimension of universities; 13 percent is the quality of institutional websites.
Other sub-indicators include such factors as administrative competence, quality of student support, accreditation of academic and institutional programs, quality of e-learning, research publications, patents and intellectual property rights, quality of online libraries, and spending on scientific research.