<div class="title-block" style="border-bottom-color: #b56b79"><h1><img class="title-image" src="http://www.heart-resources.org/wp-content/themes/heart/images/education.svg">Adult, Higher and Vocational Education</h1><div class="post-type-description"></div></div> – Health and Education Advice and Resource Team http://www.heart-resources.org Providing DFID staff and other development actors with health, education and nutrition knowledge and expertise from around the world Fri, 02 Mar 2018 13:10:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Muriel Dunbar on defining skills http://www.heart-resources.org/mmedia/muriel-dunbar-defining-skills/ http://www.heart-resources.org/mmedia/muriel-dunbar-defining-skills/#respond Fri, 29 Jul 2016 15:48:10 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=mmedia&p=29336 Read more]]> Muriel Dunbar, Senior Skills Adviser at Cambridge Education, provides a definition of skills and looks at how widely this extends in terms of educational backgrounds, types of skill, range of ages and range of sectors.

She defines skills as: ‘the combination of technical, cognitive and behavioural competences which enable a worker to acquire and retain decent work’. It is important to remember that there is also a need for entrepreneurship and business skills. The type and location of work is changing which affects thinking about skills. Technology has taken away some low-skilled jobs available and medium skilled routine jobs. This affects what skills should be taught. The urban drift should also be taken in to account. In many countries, young people do not complete primary schooling or are only educated to this level. Secondary education or higher is needed to be employed in the formal sector.

The breadth of skills development is reflected in a variety of ways: 1) variation in education backgrounds; 2) range of types of skill; 3) range of ages; 4) range of sectors.  These each require different needs.

There is a need for in-country DFID staff to know their labour market and which level of the market the skills development being put in place is aiming at, ie. local, regional, national, international. This will determine which skills are taught, what employment services are required to support graduates, what the links with employers needs to be, whether there is a need for language teaching over and above the local language and whether there is a need for recognised qualifications. Training institutions must become more entrepreneurial so that they are aware of the labour market that they are training learners for.

For more on skills see Muriel’s HEART Reading Pack: Skills provision and private sector demand. See also the HEART topic guide on skills; the reading pack Skills for Development: Thinking about System Reform Options; and a HEART talks from Simon McGrath taken at the same event that Muriel was filmed at.

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Simon McGrath on transforming skills development http://www.heart-resources.org/mmedia/simon-mcgrath-transforming-skills-development/ http://www.heart-resources.org/mmedia/simon-mcgrath-transforming-skills-development/#respond Wed, 27 Jul 2016 18:15:35 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=mmedia&p=29330 Read more]]> Simon McGrath, Professor of International Education and Development, University of Nottingham, talks about transforming skills development in relation to two key opportunities – the introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 and the new UNESCO technical and vocational training (TVET) strategy.

Although TVET and youth employment is mentioned specifically in the SDGs, Simon argues that you can see skills elements across the goals. For example an energy goal talks about training people to install certain systems. What the UNESCO strategy does is use three lenses for thinking about skills: youth unemployment, equity (which includes a strong focus on gender equality), and sustainability. A lot of work has focussed on youth unemployment so Simon concentrates on the other two here.

On human development he critiques that there has not been enough efforts made to listen to young people to find out what they actually want. They want jobs for a number of reasons. Simon emphasises the need to work on converting the aspirations of young people into achievements.

The SDGs help to focus thinking on providing sustainable work. Not just employability but decent jobs. Also there is a need to build skills for work that builds wellbeing rather than undermining it. And there is a need to focus on gendered division of labour.

Skills are not just about supply and demand. Evidence points to the importance of cultures and institutional regimes that set up skills. Sequencing of reform is also an important issue. The interface between being pro-poor and being green needs to be considered, ie. low carbon.

Simon reflects on the skills for oil and gas in Africa (SOGA) programme for which DFID is one of the funders. This project has highlighted the need to ensure that skills are being developed for local and marginalised people. It also raises questions around whether corporate involvement in skills for the poor can be more than corporate social responsibility.

See Muriel Dunbar’s HEART talks for a discussion on defining skills. For more on skills development see the HEART topic guide. There are also two HEART reading packs on this area: Skills provision and private sector demand and Skills for Development: Thinking about System Reform Options.

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Higher education as the catalyst of recovery in conflict-affected societies http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/higher-education-catalyst-recovery-conflict-affected-societies/ http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/higher-education-catalyst-recovery-conflict-affected-societies/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2016 11:54:46 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=doc_lib&p=29295 Read more]]> This article examines the role of higher education in the recovery of conflict-affected societies and argues that while the sector is typically a very low reconstruction priority, it has the potential, if addressed strategically, to act as a catalyst for effective and sustainable post-war recovery. The article begins by contextualising higher education within broader debates around post-war recovery and education. It then analyses the relationship between higher education and four core intervention agendas in conflict-affected societies: stabilisation and securitisation, reconstruction, statebuilding and peacebuilding.

This document may be accessible through your organisation or institution. If not, you may have to purchase access. Alternatively, the British Library for Development Studies provides a document delivery service.

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UNRWA’s ten youth commitments http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/unrwas-ten-youth-commitments/ http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/unrwas-ten-youth-commitments/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2016 09:25:11 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=doc_lib&p=29290 Read more]]> By 2020, refugee youth (refugees aged 14-29) will number over 1.5 million. This represents an overall 6 per cent rise since 2010: 4 per cent in Jordan, 8 per cent in the West Bank and 15 per cent in Gaza. UNRWA’s ten youth commitments are in the areas of education, health, vocational training, microfinance, scholarships, skills development, rights, partnerships, participation, and communication.

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Skills provision and private sector demand http://www.heart-resources.org/reading_pack/skills-provision-private-sector-demand/ http://www.heart-resources.org/reading_pack/skills-provision-private-sector-demand/#respond Fri, 17 Jun 2016 14:50:36 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=reading_pack&p=29115 Read more]]> The issue

Skills training (often referred to as TVET – technical and vocational education and training) is now regarded as a key factor for economic growth and social development, and as such, has grown in importance for governments and donor agencies. This trend is noticeable within DfID itself where several studies and business cases have been undertaken within the last two years in preparation for significant interventions. These include: Skills for Employment in Mozambique; Skills Development Programme in Pakistan; East Africa Oil & Gas; and Skills for Growth & Poverty Reduction in the Eastern Caribbean, as well as on-going support to the Employment Fund in Nepal and the new Skills for Employment project being implemented there from spring 2016.

What makes these interventions different from previous, albeit limited, support for skills training, is the strong emphasis on the role of the private sector. It is now widely accepted that governments alone cannot meet the demand for training and that the resources of the private sector need to be utilised. In developed countries getting that buy-in can be challenging. In developing countries, where the formal employment sector is small, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) predominate, and companies are often wary of working with the government, making the challenges even greater.

Muriel Dunbar, Senior Skills Adviser at Cambridge Education, provides a definition of skills and looks at how widely this extends in terms of educational backgrounds, types of skill, range of ages and range of sectors in this HEART Talks, on Defining skills

Skills provision and private sector demand can be broken down into four discrete elements, each of which can be an intervention on its own, or all of which can be wrapped up into a single programme.

  1. Understanding employers’ needs:
    1. One of the greatest challenges in designing skills programmes is to get an accurate understanding of what it is employers need and to view the labour market from their perspective.
  2. Supplying the skills which employers need:
    1. Technical skills: Projecting from current demographic and labour market patterns, it is predicted that by 2020 there will be a global shortage of 38-40 million high-skilled workers; the greatest demand being for jobs in science, technology, engineering and maths disciplines. Workers will be especially attractive to employers if they live in low-cost locations.
    2. Employability skills: Technical skills are no longer sufficient on their own. There is an increased demand from employers for what are often termed ‘soft skills’ and an expectation that workers will arrive with them, rather than learn them on-the-job.
  3. Bridging the gap between supply and demand: Increasingly, it is understood by governments and donors that providing poor people with technical and employability skills will not be enough to open employers’ doors to them. This is particularly so in countries with opaque recruitments systems and a heavy dependence on personal networks. Employment services must be provided to ease the transition from training into private sector employment.
  4. Engaging employers in the provision of training: There are many roles which employers can play in supporting and providing skills training. Actual delivery of training is only one of them.

The key readings provide a reference for each of these five headings.

Key readings

Reading 1: IFC, 2013, Assessing Private Sector Contributions to Job Creation and Poverty Reduction http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/ifc-jobs-study-assessing-private-sector-contributions-to-job-creation-and-poverty-reduction/

State of evidence

The report was prepared by a team of IFC staff, reporting to an Advisory Panel made up of seven representatives of academia, multi-lateral institutions and the private sector. It is a companion document to the World Development Report 2013. When identifying the most important constraints facing firms in the private sector, data was used from the World Bank Group’s Enterprise Surveys, and responses from over 45,000 enterprises in 106 developing countries were analysed.

Key messages

The report stresses that 90 per cent of jobs in developing countries are in the private sector. It presents global employment trends and methods to assess the impact of private sector development on jobs. It looks in particular at four constraints to growth, one of which is insufficient skills and training. It finds, broadly, that there are not enough workers for high-skilled jobs, not enough jobs for low-skilled workers and not enough skilled business owners and managers (see pages 96 – 115). The report shows that some programmes, and the jobs created as a result, can have a transformational impact on an economy.

It is suggested that a comprehensive approach is needed to tackle the lack of more advanced skills and future employment needs, and that this needs to be done in collaboration with the private sector. Investing in training, technology and innovation can have an impact on job growth and must be part of the strategy to decrease the skills mismatch.

Reading 2a: Dunbar, M., 2013, Engaging the Private Sector in Skills Development, commissioned by DFID http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/engaging-the-private-sector-in-skills-development/

State of evidence

The abstract for this paper was subject to a blind peer review process for conference acceptance. Prior to that, the full document had been critically assessed by a roundtable of DFID advisers.

Key messages

There is an increasing demand for skills training which needs greater private sector involvement, better co-ordination, effective use of new technology and the media, and interventions with a sectoral focus. The report makes clear that private sector intervention will generally not happen without facilitation by another party, whether it be government, donor agencies or NGOs.

Employers are more likely to engage in skills development if the benefits of doing so are apparent, the business environment is favourable and there is minimal bureaucracy attached. Their engagement is most effective if it takes place early in the planning process and results from them being proactive. Sections 2 and 3 of the report outline how parts of the private sector may get involved in skills development, describes different types of intervention, and evaluates their strengths and weaknesses. The greatest challenges are found in countries with unstable governments and low-growth or stagnant economies, and in remote, agrarian communities with little industry.

Reading 2b: Brewer, L., 2013, Enhancing Youth Employability: What? Why? and How? Guide to core work skills, ILO http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/enhancing-youth-employability-guide-core-work-skills/

State of evidence

The author is Specialist in Skills for Youth Employment for the ILO. Her work drew on contributions from colleagues in the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour, the Youth Employment Programme and the Sectoral Activities and Employment Policy departments.

Key messages

The paper begins by defining core skills for employability and explains why these are so important to employers. It goes on to guide readers through the key issues in identifying relevant core skills for employability, understanding their importance and ways these skills can be delivered, attained and recognised. It proposes and shows how to integrate employability skills into core academic content and vocational training, rather than providing a ‘core-skills curriculum’. Brewer acknowledges that while the best way to learn these transversal skill is on-the-job, alternative mechanisms are required as employers are not often prepared to train new recruits.

This Guide is accompanied by a policy brief, Enhancing youth employability: the importance of core work skills, which provides the basic premise for the Guide.

Reading 3: Andersen, T., Feiler, L., Schulz, G., 2015, The Role of Employment Service Providers: Guide to anticipating and matching skills and jobs, vol. 4, published by the Publications Office of the European Union http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/role-employment-service-providers-guide-anticipating-matching-skills-jobs-volume-4/

State of evidence

This guide is one of a series of six which address the use of labour market information, skills forecasting, developing skills surveys and carrying out tracer studies. It is produced using the combined experience and geographic coverage of two EU agencies, the European Training Foundation and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, and the ILO.

Key messages

The role of both public employment services (PES) and private employment agencies (PEA) are covered. It is acknowledged that public employment services in transition and developing countries face particular challenges: inadequate budgets; poor staff resources; and a low reach-out and market share. The Guide stresses that budget alone is not the issue as some of the countries with larger budgets show poorer results on matching, demonstrating that appropriate management (such as strategic planning with a focus on results, multi-level partnerships and monitoring) are important for success.

The review on which this guide is based puts forth a key message: that skills, rather than qualifications, are at the centre of the anticipation and matching practices of the employment services. This shift to skills as the core element has led employment services to concentrate on developing more skills-related services.

Reading 4: UK Commission for Employment & Skills, 2013, Employer Engagement in Design and Development of Skills Solutions http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/employer-engagement-design-development-skills-solutions/

State of evidence

The report sets out the key lessons from a qualitative evaluation of demand-led skills solutions carried out by ICF GHK at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. The evaluation was based around ten investment fund project case studies and ten case studies looking at standards and frameworks products.

Key messages

Although the research has been carried out in the UK, the findings are of direct relevance to developing countries. These include the fact that employer engagement, relationship management and maintained engagement take more time and resources than even the most cautious partners expect. It also found that, while working with a core of known employers is to be expected, it is when these employers are active, rather than passive, that the potential to influence the training offer can be realised. Some employers are motivated by directly influencing the on-going design and development of skills solutions. It was also found to be more important to get support from employers in delivering skills projects than to attract funding from them. That is what brings substantial and long-lasting value.


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Literature review: higher education and development http://www.heart-resources.org/assignment/literature-review-higher-education-development/ http://www.heart-resources.org/assignment/literature-review-higher-education-development/#respond Fri, 17 Jun 2016 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=assignment&p=29140 Read more]]> Research focusing on the links between education, development and social change has a long history; this includes research on higher education investment in low-income countries by external and international development agencies. Analysis of the impact on society of higher education in developing countries emerged alongside post-colonial discourses and modernisation theories. Research generally focused on how higher education could be utilised by governments to train people in the skills necessary for economic growth.

Key findings of evidence and gaps include:

  • Trends and prioritisation: In the pre-independence and immediate post-independence period, higher education was prioritised by national governments and international donors. Analysis of official development assistance shows that there was a significant drop in investment in higher education during the 1990s by both multilateral and bilateral donors, with the prioritisation of basic education. However, over the last decade, there has been a greater prioritisation of higher education by donors as the wider benefits of higher education for development are recognised.
  • Partnerships: Evidence shows that partnerships of many kinds can improve the quality of higher education and donors can be instrumental in financing them. Successful partnerships require sustainable financing, good monitoring and evaluation, and understanding and overcoming cultural differences. More research is needed on why teaching and learning partnerships are slow to develop.
  • The role of universities for development: Universities provide measurable benefits to graduates in areas such as health, gender equality and democracy. They also contribute to strengthening institutions and training professionals in other sectors, for example health and education. Many universities have moved towards massification and there has been dramatic growth in private sector provision of higher education.
  • Linkages between higher education and development: A DFID rigorous literature review on the impact of tertiary education on development outlines outcomes in four areas: (i) increased productivity; (ii) technological transfer; (iii) improved capabilities; and (iv) improved institutions. There is evidence that higher education develops entrepreneurship, creates jobs and supports good economic and political governance.
  • The geography and power of knowledge: Given that most higher education institutes are in urban areas, this creates a potential barrier for those living in rural areas to attend due to increased transport and accommodation costs. While admission to universities is largely meritocratic, education quality in rural areas is often lower due to lower levels of investment.
  • Gender and diversity in higher education and research: In Sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than seven women enrol in higher education for every ten men. Female leaders are underrepresented among the top 100 universities (most of them in high-income countries). In Sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of southern African countries, there is low female enrolment and a low proportion of female academic staff.
  • Higher education and the SDGs: The main education goal is SDG 4 which is concerned with inclusive and equitable quality education. Evidence shows that females and students with disabilities are not fully represented in universities. Achievement of SDG 4 will require a key focus on those groups that are marginalised in accessing higher education.


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Employer engagement in design and development of skills solutions http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/employer-engagement-design-development-skills-solutions/ http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/employer-engagement-design-development-skills-solutions/#respond Mon, 13 Jun 2016 09:28:41 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=doc_lib&p=29114 Read more]]> This paper sets out the key lessons from the ‘Qualitative Evaluation of Demand-led Skill Solutions’ in relation to employer investment and engagement in the design and development of skills solutions.

Key findings include:

  • There has been a shift from employer engagement being about asking key employers ‘what do you want?’ to asking them ‘what can you contribute to helping make this idea a success?’; and, not just asking employers ‘will this work?’, but, asking ‘how can we jointly make this work?
  • Employer engagement, relationship management and maintained engagement take more planning, time and resources than even the most cautious delivery partners expect.
  • Working with a core of known employers is to be expected (and pragmatic). It is where the engagement and contribution of these employers is active (rather than passive) that is has most potential to influence the extent to which the solution is ‘fit for purpose’ and its value, and appeal, to employers.
  • More important than the type of employer contribution in financial terms is the nature of support during the project delivery phase and its potential to bring substantial and long-lasting value to the skills solution.
  • The ability to more directly influence the on-going design and development of the skills solution is a key motivating factor for some employers. Approaches to access and use that expertise need to be flexible and efficient.
  • The role and value of (early) market testing with a cross-section of employers cannot be underestimated. There is a need for a credible view of the wider market of employers for any given skills solution (indicating that it could be scalable) and a plan of how reach and generated interest from this wider group of employers. The shape or delivery of the solution, its value and how it is communicated may need to be tailored to different sections of the audience.
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Enhancing youth employability: what? why? and how? guide to core work skills http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/enhancing-youth-employability-guide-core-work-skills/ http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/enhancing-youth-employability-guide-core-work-skills/#respond Mon, 13 Jun 2016 09:16:48 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=doc_lib&p=29111 Read more]]> Skills have become increasingly important in the globalised world. Vocational and technical skills are essential, but employers are seeking applicants with wider skills. This Guide is designed to guide readers through the key issues in identifying the relevant core skills for employability, understanding their importance and ways these skills can be delivered, attained and recognised. An ILO review of numerous teaching methodologies and training techniques demonstrates that acquiring such skills requires innovative ways of delivering training, so that core skills go hand in hand with technical skills. This guide illustrates various ways of integrating employability skills into core academic content and vocational training, rather than providing a “core skills curriculum”. The audience is broad as there are many actors in this field

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Higher education spaces and protracted displacement: how learner-­centered pedagogies and human­-centered design can unleash refugee innovation http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/higher-education-spaces-protracted-displacement-learner-%c2%adcentered-pedagogies-human%c2%ad-centered-design-can-unleash-refugee-innovation/ http://www.heart-resources.org/doc_lib/higher-education-spaces-protracted-displacement-learner-%c2%adcentered-pedagogies-human%c2%ad-centered-design-can-unleash-refugee-innovation/#respond Fri, 03 Jun 2016 11:28:00 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=doc_lib&p=29075 Read more]]> This paper analyses the contribution of Open Educational Resources (OERs) to building 21st century skills and explores the value of tutoring and mentoring models, learner retention, learning technologies, and provision of language and subject matter support that best mediate higher ­level learning in fragile contexts. Variables such as sustainability, operability, equal access, cultural and linguistic ownership, livelihoods and context relevance were used to analyse available evidence in an effort to inform optimal design and scalability of such learning spaces, as well as their potential use in migrant refugee contexts. The importance of refugee ownership and empowerment are emphasised as vectors for ensuring the sustainability of higher education spaces in fragile contexts and for fostering creativity and innovation, thereby feeding into the larger framework of Education for All and Sustainable Development Goal 4.

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Equity of access to higher education http://www.heart-resources.org/reading_pack/equity-access-higher-education/ http://www.heart-resources.org/reading_pack/equity-access-higher-education/#respond Tue, 17 May 2016 08:41:07 +0000 http://www.heart-resources.org/?post_type=reading_pack&p=29013 Read more]]> The issue

Higher education has seen astounding growth across the world in recent decades, and about a third of the population globally now go on to some form of post-secondary study. Yet while there are increasing participation rates in all regions there remain significant disparities, with a gross enrolment ratio of 68% in Europe, 23% in Southern Asia and 9% in Sub-Saharan Africa (data from UNESCO Institute of Statistics). Furthermore, within specific countries there are marked inequalities of opportunity. Rates of access are significantly higher for more privileged social groups, and lower-income and other marginalised communities struggle for entry, particularly in the poorest countries.

In contrast to primary and secondary levels, it is generally accepted that higher education does not need to be compulsory and fully universalised. Given the limited number of places available in most contexts, the complex question arises then of who should go to university. Should it be the highest performing students, or those who are in greatest need, or perhaps those who will make the greatest contribution to society?

The concept of equity of access to higher education is far from straightforward. In particular, it places in tension ideas of procedural justice – for example, that those who score highest in entrance exams should have priority – with those of social justice, bringing into play historical and continuing discrimination against certain groups in society. A further challenge is presented by stratification of higher education systems, with marked differences of quality and prestige between different universities. Consequently, issues of equity relate not only to gaining access to the system, but also avoiding confining less advantaged students to lower quality institutions and courses.

Concerns about the specific groups underrepresented in higher education vary considerably from region to region. In some contexts, social class or family income is the primary barrier, while in others it may be region, rurality, religion or language group. In relation to gender, following significant increases in female enrolments in recent years, there are now more women than men in undergraduate courses globally.

Nevertheless, there are many countries (particularly in Africa and Asia) in which women are underrepresented. Furthermore, as explored in the Morley and Lugg reading, there are a range of more hidden inequalities relating to discipline studied, experiences within the university and subsequent opportunities. Those with disabilities also struggle to gain access to higher education in most countries. As emphasised by Morley and Lugg, attention must also be paid to intersectionality, when these factors coincide and lead to even more pernicious forms of exclusion.

But what is preventing these groups from accessing higher education? The two primary barriers present in most higher education systems are tuition fees and entrance examinations. Fees are a primary characteristic of private universities, but increasing popularity of ‘cost-sharing’ policies has meant that public institutions are rarely free-of-charge, and there are a range of other direct and opportunity costs of full-time study. Entrance examinations appear a justifiable means of assessing whether students are equipped to engage in a particular course, yet in many cases act to privilege students from high quality schools and those who have been able to pay for preparatory courses. As explored in the readings below, the meritocratic principles of university admissions are hard to disentangle from unfair social advantage and disadvantage. Furthermore, there are other barriers to access present in some contexts such as low aspirations and geographical distance of institutions.

Countries have implemented a range of responses to these challenges. In order to offset the regressive impact of fees on access for low-income students, many countries have student loan schemes. However, as evidenced by the convulsions caused by the student protests in Chile in 2011, even universally available loans can fail to provide an adequate solution. Affirmative action policies are also common. These measures aim to provide preferential conditions for access for disadvantaged students – whether in the form of a quota, a bonus on entrance exam scores or a lower cut-off point. As discussed in the studies below of Bertrand et al. on India and Onsongo on East Africa, these schemes have been successful in allowing access to disadvantaged groups, although there is a concern that the places might be filled by the more privileged members of these groups. There are also measures in a number of countries to allow access for ‘mature’ students who may have been in employment for some time, to acknowledge other forms of experience in addition to entrance test scores, and to provide preparatory courses (as explored in the Downs reading).

Finally, it is important to retain a holistic vision of the entire education system. Justice in higher education admissions is closely intertwined with opportunities at primary and secondary levels. It is hard for university policies to compensate for the highly uneven playing field of the lower levels – and indeed, many young people in low-income countries do not even finish secondary school and allow themselves the chance of going to university. Nevertheless, this does not let higher education ‘off the hook’, with all the blame placed on deeper social and educational inequalities: there are still a range of effective measures that can be taken by universities, a number of which are outlined in the readings that follow.

Key readings

Meyer, H-D (2013) Reasoning about Fairness in Access to Higher Education: Common Sense, Normative, and Institutional Perspectives. In Meyer, H.-D., St. John, E.P., Chankseliani, M., and Uribe, L. (eds) Fairness in Access to Higher Education in a Global Perspective: Reconciling Excellence, Efficiency, and Justice. Rotterdam: Sense.

Content – Overview of diverse conceptualisations of fair access to higher education, their grounding in political and moral philosophy, and their relation to current social and economic trends.

McCowan T (2007) Expansion without equity: an analysis of current policy on access to higher education in Brazil. Higher Education, 53(5): 579–598.

Content – Assessment of policies for promoting equitable access in Brazil using the private sector (loans and tax breaks) and the public sector (quotas and changes in entrance examinations) in relation to two principles of equity.

Morley L, Lugg R (2009) Mapping meritocracy: intersecting gender, poverty and higher educational opportunity structures. Higher Education Policy 22(1): 37–60.

Content – Article analysing findings from an ESRC/DFID funded study on access to higher education in Tanzania and Ghana, focusing on hidden barriers to access, discrimination against and stereotyping of women within universities.

Onsongo J (2009) Affirmative action, gender equity and university admissions – Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. London Review of Education 7(1): 71–81.

Content – Assessment of impact and limitations of affirmative action policies (in the form of entrance score bonuses) for women in the three countries, highlighting the need for a coordinated approach.

Bertrand M, Hanna R, Mullainathan S (2010) Affirmative action in education: evidence from engineering college admissions in India. Journal of Public Economics, 94(1–2): 16–29.

Content – Statistical analysis of impact of policies facilitating access for students from scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and ‘other backward castes’. Contrary to popular belief, these policies have not only benefited more privileged students from the disadvantaged groups.

Downs C (2010) Increasing equity and compensating historically academically disadvantaged students at a tertiary level: benefits of a science foundation programme as a way of access. Teaching in Higher Education 15(1): 97–107.

Content – Case study of the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, showing the positive impact of a science faculty access course for black students with English as a second language.

Further Reading

Power L, Millington K, Bengtsson S (2015) Building Capacity in Higher Education Topic Guide. Health and Education Advice and Resource Team (HEART). http://www.heart-resources.org/topic/higher-education/


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