How effective are different approaches to higher education provision in increasing access, quality and completion for students in developing countries? Does this differ by gender of students?

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This review focuses on how to effectively increase access to and quality in higher education in developing countries. 175 research papers on the impact of higher education policies and methods of provision on access, quality and gender issues in developing countries, available in English language, were systematically reviewed. The majority of the studies fell into six main categories: affirmative action; cross-border, distance and open education; financial policies/programmes (including cost-sharing policies and student loan programmes); technical and vocational education and training (TVET); and institutional type.

Although the identified studies failed to reach a firm consensus on the policies most effective for increasing access to and the quality of higher education, several of them nonetheless demonstrated positive effects for the interventions studied. Moreover, while many studies lacked evidence on how these outcomes varied by gender, several did address this issue and highlighted key areas of concern for improving not only access to and the quality of higher education, but for promoting equity as well.

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