The Impact of Tertiary Education on Development

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has commissioned a series of rigorous literature reviews focused on different aspects of education. The reviews identify critical evidence gaps to guide future research programmes and present existing evidence for the development of effective interventions. A team from the Institute of Education, University of London authored the review titled The Impact of Tertiary Education on Development.

After a long period in which the international development community has placed emphasis on primary education, there is now renewed interest in tertiary education (TE). However, the extent and nature of the impact of TE on development remains unclear. This rigorous review seeks to address this question in the context of low and lower middle income countries.

In this video the three principal authors, Moses Oketch, Tristan McCowan and Rebecca Schendel, discuss the review:

The full review titled The Impact of Tertiary Education on Development, can be downloaded from our document library.

An evidence brief based on the review is also available from our document library.

Key findings

  • There is a significant lack of research into the impact of TE on development. Studies are needed, in particular, to show how inputs and interventions to tertiary TE institutions and systems are related to different forms of outcome and levels of impact.
  • The returns to TE have been underestimated. There is evidence to suggest that TE may provide greater impact on economic growth than lower levels of education. However, all levels of education are interdependent and must be addressed holistically.
  • TE provides a range of broader, measurable benefits to graduates, relating to health, gender equality and democracy, among other areas. In addition, it contributes to the strengthening of institutions, and the forming of professionals in key areas, such as education and healthcare. The diverse functions of the university, in addition to its direct impact on economic growth, should be acknowledged and supported.

Other reviews in the series

This review is part of a series of DFID education rigorous literature reviews. Other reviews in this series include:

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