From Peril to Promise: how higher education can deliver
A report of the British Council Seminar held at Bailbrook House, Bath

British Council

19-23 March 2002

"On s'engage et puis on voit."



The Task Force on Higher Education and Society was convened by UNESCO and the World Bank in 1998 to answer three main questions:

- What is the role of higher education in supporting and enhancing the process of economic and social development?
- What are the major obstacles that higher education faces in developing countries?
- How can these obstacles best be overcome?

The Task Force report, 'Higher Education in Developing Countries - Peril and Promise', articulated the case for higher education, as one of many important development priorities.

Developing countries need higher education - and they need it increasingly. But they face significant obstacles as they try to improve both the quantity and the quality of the education they provide.

The report provided a powerful diagnosis of the problems facing higher education. It left open, however, the challenge of developing visions and strategies for implementation in specific developing countries.

The British Council seminar, 'From Peril to Promise: how higher education can deliver', aimed to continue the Task Force's work and focus in particular on the practicalities of higher education reform. By building networks, disseminating knowledge and sharing experiences between countries, the seminar aimed to break new ground in the search for effective higher education reform.

The seminar brought together 36 policy makers, educationalists, donors and higher education experts from 21 countries. The format was deliberately open and interactive, designed to emphasize the perspective of the delegates, and use their experience to develop new solutions.

The program combined presentations from delegates, extended plenary sessions, and working groups designed to focus on the specific challenges of reform.

At the beginning of the seminar, participants considered the big picture of higher education reform, assessing the challenges at international, national and institutional level. They moved on to look at the reform of higher education systems, and then honed in on reform at institution level. Finally, the funding of higher education reform was considered in a session with representatives from the World Bank and Dutch and Swedish donor agencies.

Part one of this report provides a brief background to the Task Force report. Part two discusses efforts to initiate the reform process. Key considerations once a reform process is underway are addressed in part three, while part four examines the role of donors. Finally, the concluding section presents an initiative instigated by seminar participants aimed at building a higher education reform network.

One: The Task Force on Higher Education and Society

Task Force Co-Chair Henry Rosovsky opened the seminar with a summary of the Task Force's work.

The Task Force, he said, makes a simple point: "Higher education has never been more important to all nations than it is right now." By contributing to governance, culture, democracy and the spirit of enterprise, higher education creates valuable public goods.

The value of these public goods is increasing, meanwhile. Globalisation is encouraging both competition and co-operation across borders, with well-run societies attaining significant advantages. The knowledge economy, meanwhile, values knowledge over more traditional physical assets.

Methods of evaluating the benefits of higher education have traditionally been quite narrow, neglecting higher education's role in generating public goods. The rate of return to the individual has generally been measured in terms of higher salaries, with only the increased taxes these salaries incur counted as a public benefit.

By this measure, investment in higher education delivers significantly smaller public and private returns than investment in primary and secondary education. Donors have therefore tended to downplay the importance of advanced education and, in some cases, have advised governments to withdraw funding from the sector.

Demand for tertiary education, however, has continued to rise. In part, there is a simple demographic effect at work. As more children are educated to secondary level, so will more want to continue their studies. However, the increase in demand is made more dramatic by the fact that a growing proportion of those leaving secondary schools want to undertake further studies. All over the world, students, and their families, understand that the value of advanced education is continuing to rise.

Rising demand has been met by overworked and underfunded institutions, but also by a burgeoning private sector. As Professor Rosovsky noted, the private sector has a valuable contribution to make, but it has its limits. It tends to be strong on subjects with a rapid and high economic rate of return to students, but it is less successful at delivering public goods.

"Those responsible for the public interest," Professor Rosovsky argued, "should not sit back and let markets rule." Instead, private institutions should be integrated into a national higher education system, where the sum of the contribution of different institutions is considerably more than the parts.

A systems perspective places the state in the role of supervisor, rather than manager, of higher education. In this role, it can set boundaries, regulate quality and ensure access for disadvantaged groups. Perhaps most importantly, it can sponsor debate about what kind of higher education is needed to meet national needs.

The Task Force focused on two areas of provision that are often neglected. First, it argued for the need to develop scientific research and training, which is weak in many developing countries. The developing world needs scientific capacity to create new technologies and to adapt existing technologies to their own problems. Currently, however, the "knowledge gap" is growing wider, with rich countries accounting for over 80 per cent of scientific papers published and over 90 per cent of patents granted.

Second, the Task Force discussed at length the benefits offered by general education, which provides individuals with vital skills in critical thinking, creativity, and communication. General education is not relevant for all students, but it is certainly important that some students receive this kind of broad training. General education offers a good preparation for knowledge-based careers, encourages attitudes that facilitate lifelong learning, and promotes citizenry and leadership.

In the European system, general education was traditionally provided in secondary schools. This model is of limited relevance to developing countries, where secondary schools do not have the resources to provide consistently high standards across very broad curricula.

Higher education systems therefore have a responsibility to ensure adequate general education provision. Designing relevant courses is a significant challenge, offering further opportunity for national debate around such questions as "what is an educated person?" and "to what extent do educational needs differ from country to country?"

Winning the case for higher education is only the start of the reform process. Longstanding problems include inadequately trained faculty; poor pay requiring faculty to take other jobs and therefore spend too little time in their own institutions; the historic emphasis on rote learning; and corruption in the selection of faculty and administration. Inadequate facilities and student unrest and strikes have also impeded the education of many.

"A physician who can diagnose but has no solution isn't all that useful," Professor Rosovsky concluded. "The Task Force report diagnosed - we now need to move on to solutions." The seminar therefore continued to discuss a renewed push for reform.

Two: embarking on reform

The challenges facing higher education systems were illustrated by the experience of seminar participants. Their efforts suggested that many problems are shared from one country to another. The range of potential solutions varies much more greatly, however.

Reports from many countries highlighted the problems caused as demand rises, but available resources do not. Poland, for example, saw a 275 per cent increase in its higher education population between 1990 and 2000. Over the same period, the budget for the sector grew by just 20 per cent. Politicians continue, however, to see higher education as a tool for decreasing unemployment in the short term, as young people are sent to college rather than directly into the labour market.

Thailand also faces the problem of expanding demand, at the same time as the "digital divide" is growing. Within countries and even within cities, lack of connectivity is widening the gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots'. Globalisation offers economic opportunities to Asia, but it also raises questions of the extent to which higher education systems can retain Asian values and promote Asian culture.

Many higher education systems must grapple with the question of which language they should work in. In Africa, for example, English is the lingua franca of 95 per cent of institutions, effectively excluding non-English speakers from higher education and threatening the survival of some indigenous cultures and languages. In India, too, where there are 18 official languages, knowledge of English is nevertheless essential for those wishing to succeed at higher education institutions. Developing education in other languages raises fundamental questions, as Pakistan has discovered. There, Urdu-medium institutions may have heightened barriers between English and non-English speakers.

Political interference and corruption were also reported from many countries. In India, for example, there have been attempts to "saffronise" higher education and interpret history in a way that will appease Hindu nationalists. Efforts have been made to make access more equitable and transparent, however, with a legally mandated quota system ensuring greater participation of those from lower castes and economically disadvantaged groups.

The problem of attracting highly-qualified faculty is, if anything, becoming more pressing. A global market for the best academic talent is developing, increasing the cost of employing faculty. Brain drain, whereby a country's most talented individuals are offered opportunities to continue their studies and careers abroad, poses a continuing threat to teaching quality and a challenge to those attempting to make the political case for the difference higher education can make to a country.

In general, seminar participants deal with the problems of either higher education systems or institutions every day of their working life. As a result, theirs was generally a pragmatic vision, based on the need to build on success, rather than continually describe (and become overwhelmed by) problems. Initial reform efforts in many countries have been extremely promising and there are isolated success stories even where the picture is at its most bleak. One of the seminar's major successes was that, by allowing seminar participants to pool experience, some underlying reform principles began to emerge.

Participants enthusiastically endorsed the Task Force's emphasis on higher education systems. A vision for reform should start by assessing a country's needs and then developing a typology of institutions to fit those needs. A systems perspective allows for the effective differentiation of institutions, with each type of institution, from technical college to university, having a clearly defined purpose and strategic objectives. The system was seen as a much more relevant concept than the higher education pyramid. Quality is important throughout the system - and different types of institution can make an equally valuable contribution to their students and society as a whole.

The process of reform is best initiated once an overall vision has been formulated. Delegates from many different countries testified to their experience of the reform process. In particular, two models of reform were outlined and discussed. In Pakistan, a process has been instigated as a direct reaction to the Task Force's work. Higher education reform in South Africa, meanwhile, has been ongoing since the end of apartheid, offering both parallels and contrasts with the Pakistani experience.

Tariq Banuri, Secretary of the Pakistan Steering Committee on Higher Education, presented the Pakistan case study, situating current reform efforts within a history of similar reform initiatives. He characterised two types of reform effort. The first was outcome-driven, relying on speed and surprise to overcome resistance to change. In contrast, the second emphasized process, aiming to reach consensus about the way forward.

The Pakistan Task Force has taken a third approach, adopting an entrepreneurial model, which thinks about reform in terms of enterprise. The model seeks to promote and encourage "social entrepreneurs" and focus on "strategic entry points" into the reform process. These agents of change can be found both within and without the higher education sector, but they are often isolated. If brought together, they can coalesce into effective "communities of change".

In this model, no actor has an absolute veto over the reform process. It is possible, for example, to initiate reform without government support, though not all goals can be achieved (or even attempted) until the government can be persuaded to sign up. Civil will, in other words, can be exploited where there is political apathy or incapacity. Equally, some areas of the higher education system can initiate reform in the expectation that the reform process will spread as success is demonstrated. Creating and promoting "early wins" is particularly important for encouraging others to take up the gauntlet.

In Pakistan's case, the reform process was initiated as a result of two conferences organised to explore the relevance of the Task Force report to the situation in Pakistan. Government support quickly followed these conferences, with the government setting up the Pakistan Task Force to conduct a detailed study of higher education in Pakistan. In January 2002, it presented its findings, arguing for "the transformation of our institutions of higher education into world-class seats of learning, equipped to foster high-quality education, scholarship and research, to produce enlightened citizens with strong moral and ethical values."

Pakistan's President has now accepted the report and recommended the establishment of a steering group to guide implementation. Four teams have been set up to address areas where the Task Force believes change can be readily achieved. Three priorities are to promote financial disclosure; increase the professionalism of higher education management; and create a community to address curriculum reform. The fourth team will attempt to create a National Higher Education Commission to support and nurture the process.

Civil society, and in particular higher education institutions themselves, have also played a key role in initiating higher education reform in South Africa. However, as both Piyushi Kotecha, CEO of South African Universities Vice-Chancellors Association, and Saleem Badat of the South African Council on Higher Education emphasised, South Africa's democratic system has had a major focus on the need for consultation and building support across society given the experience of apartheid and the need to replace a system based on structured inequality with a new social order. In a democratic environment, building vibrant links between government, civil society and higher education institutions is crucial if a national drive for reform is to be set in motion.

As Saleem Badat explained, in drawing up a White Paper on higher education, the goal was to reach "sufficient consensus" among stakeholders. As in Pakistan, "champions of reform" are needed and their capacity must be enhanced. However, the "spaces" within which these champions can operate are constrained by the needs of a democracy. They must always work to develop a "sufficient consensus" for their reform strategies and be prepared to consider trade-offs as they pursue conflicting, but equally desirable, objectives.

The South African higher education system has considerable strengths, with many institutions providing a high quality service. However, it faces many challenges in achieving its 'overall goal' of transformation to a system characterised by "quality and excellence, equity, responsiveness and effective and efficient provision, governance and management." According to Badat, "dense policy communities" are needed to undertake what he sees as a "massive undertaking."

"Policy formation, planning and implementation are not neutral, technical, cost-benefit exercises," Badat argues. "They are deeply implicated with values and social goals." Reform will fail if it neglects to work with an awareness of political imperatives, macroeconomic constraints, and the capacity of the system to undertake reform.

The Pakistani and South African experiences share many common factors and encouraged participants to explore what principles underpin the reform process. These principles are explored in the next section.

Three: key considerations in the reform process

Five major factors emerged as central to the reform process:

- the centrality of governance
- the importance improving educational quality
- the related issue of increasing access to higher education
- curricular reform
- financing.

Seminar participants provided many examples of successful and innovative attempts to tackle these issues.
Governance emerged as perhaps the most important concern, lending credence to the Task Force's claim that "it is difficult to exaggerate the importance of good governance for higher education, with a significant number of those we consulted believing it to be the key issue."

Higher education institutions vary according to the quality of their leadership, as well as in response to external factors. Problems include faculty reward and appraisal, inadequate financial management, lack of transparency, corruption and a lack of infrastructure.

Participants highlighted the fundamental differences between higher education institutions and other public institutions. Whereas in other sectors, decision-making power resides at the top of the institution, much of the power in higher education lies among students and faculty. Reforms can seldom be imposed, as those who are affected usually have plentiful scope to refuse.

Higher education, moreover, is an intensely political arena, and the impact of the wider country-level governance environment cannot be overestimated. Institutions have a role as social critics and ask questions that cannot be asked elsewhere. Student politics can have a major impact on how institutions are run. Governance structures are seldom free from political influence, with appointments often politically controlled.

With limited resources, reform efforts are constrained by the pressures placed on those attempting to implement change. In many cases, overburdened reformers have to deal with finance, administration, curricular reform, and many other tasks while also carrying out research and teaching duties.

In response to this, Zimbabwe Open University has attempted a division of labour by installing one Pro-Vice Chancellor to handle strategic planning, finances, marketing and funding issues, and another to manage the academic side. The University of Zambia, meanwhile, has set up an International Relations Office, to deal with and report to donors and other international agencies, and free up teachers' time for teaching.

Further suggestions for improving governance highlighted the need for public accountability. Key meetings, it was suggested, should be open to the public, while the mobilization of civil society groups can provide a voice for higher standards. Where the political and civil will exists for higher education reform, higher public sector salaries may help to reduce the incentives for corruption. Training in governance for those on decision-making bodies can also play a vital role.
The second major issue discussed was the quality of higher education delivery. With ever-expanding student numbers, quality becomes increasingly difficult to monitor and control. One participant neatly summed up the problem as "massification versus customisation." The uncontrolled growth of the private sector exacerbates the problem, as a proportion of new institutions sacrifice quality in the pursuit of profit.

Government, civil society and higher education professionals all have a role to play in improving quality. Many countries have set up national accreditation committees or commissions for higher education to review academic and administrative performance. Poland, for example, has established a National Accreditation Committee, driven by civil society, and India's National Accreditation Council fulfils a similar role.

Brazil, meanwhile, has used a national exam to improve standardisation between institutions. All higher education students take this exam (which currently covers twenty subjects, with new subjects added every year) just before graduation and their results are used to grade each institution and course. Although the individual performance of students is not made public, full information on the performance of institutions and courses is published every year. The government can close down consistent underperformers.

Protecting quality, however, cannot be accomplished at the expense of efforts to increase access. Developing countries are attempting to expand higher education to meet growing demand. Many, if not most, are also keen to target groups that have traditionally been excluded from higher education. In many countries, subsidies for higher education have traditionally benefited the wealthy - a major factor behind higher education's current elitist image.

It was widely agreed that the goal of "equity and opportunity" should be at the heart of higher education reform, with standardised selection mechanisms ensuring that non-academic criteria are eliminated from the admissions process.
A variety of strategies were discussed that create opportunities for disadvantaged groups. Institutions offering 2-year courses, for example, can provide an important entry point into higher education. Allowing students to take time out between academic years and permitting them to move between universities can also create valuable flexibility. Perhaps most important are innovative financing mechanisms, which offer preferential treatment for the socially and economically disadvantaged.

Several participants, however, pointed out that access for disadvantaged groups was not sufficient. In many cases, ongoing support is needed to help students cope with the demands placed on them once they have entered a higher education institution. Such support may, depending on the student involved, be academic, financial or psychological.

Kamal Ahmad's presentation of the proposed Asian University for Women, to be based in Bangladesh, provided one example of an initiative attempting to increase access. It is an attempt to redress the gender imbalance in Asian higher education by providing women with a high quality liberal education. Pakistan's Fatima Jinnah Women's University, meanwhile, goes beyond the education of students by also training women working in the University in Higher Education Management.

Distance learning, meanwhile, provides another route for promoting access to higher education. Distance learning provides opportunities to people who lack the means to travel to residential higher education institutions. It also gives women who cannot or do not wish to leave home the chance to study.

Zimbabwe Open University has followed the example of the UK's Open University in providing foundation courses for students who need to gain new skills in order to enter university. It offers lower tuition fees than traditional universities and has contributed to a significant increase in capacity in Zimbabwe's higher education system. Many of its students are receiving an education that would not have been available to them before its foundation just three years ago.

Primrose Kurasha, the university's Pro-Vice Chancellor, explained that her institution offered "dual mode" delivery, aiming to ensure that the distance learning experience was as rich as possible. Written modules are supplemented by monthly face-to-face meetings with tutors in the University's regional centres. This allows for personal contact between students and their tutors, and better monitoring of student progress.

William Chanda, Vice Chancellor of the University of Zambia, reported that his institution's distance learning courses took a similar approach. Although it is growing rapidly, the distance-learning cohort is currently smaller than the residential one, allowing all distance learners to be brought onto the University during the summer vacation. As in Zimbabwe, the emphasis is on ensuring that distance education does not become a second-class offering.

Curricular reform is also closely linked to quality improvements. Curricula in many areas are dated and responsive neither to domestic needs nor to the demands of the global economy. Private institutions tend to concentrate their resources on subjects such as business and information technology, while public sector curricula do not keep up with changing social contexts and changing teaching methods. While some tenets apply across countries, such as the limiting impacts of early specialization, local context must be taken into consideration on many other curricular issues.

Successful curricular development invariably requires the development of a reform community within, or across, institutions. Faculty support is vital for most higher education initiatives, but it is of paramount importance that faculty members have belief in the curriculum they teach. Skilled consensus-building work is therefore needed. Faculty members need to understand the options before them and the approaches taken by other institutions and national systems. Most importantly, they need to understand what reforms will deliver to students, and to be convinced that the costs of change will be outweighed by eventual benefits.

The Task Force's recommendations on general education caused considerable discussion among seminar participants. The Task Force report claimed that it was "not advocating the universal application of a particular curriculum or teaching method across different cultures. Instead, it is recommending that each country design its own general curriculum to fit the structure and values of its higher education system."

The task of designing such a curriculum is an intriguing one. It poses many questions that have much wider relevance. Many participants expressed the belief that even addressing the question "what makes an educated person?" could be a potential catalyst for wider curricular reform.

The financing of higher education was the final major reform issue discussed. At present, most developing world public higher education institutions are either free to students or charge fees that are well below the cost of tuition. With demand continuing to increase, however, some participants believed that this situation is unsustainable and, to the extent that wealthy students are subsidised, inequitable.

The seminar working group on financing came to two opposing conclusions: that all students should pay for their education, but none should be turned away on account of financial need. They proposed that all students should be invoiced for the full cost of tuition. Even if they ended up paying a small proportion of this bill, it would increase understanding of the price of education and the subsidy provided from the public purse.

Loans were discussed as a financing option that can provide wider access to education than grants. Loan schemes are complicated in developing countries by the complexity of creating semi-commercial or non-commercial structures. Commercial loans are often out of reach for the poorest students, who lack security to provide as guarantee. The working group suggested that loan schemes should learn from the experiences of the micro credit movement, with guarantees provided at community level, allowing a succession of students to receive an advanced education.

Institutions must justify extra financing by demonstrating their effective use of existing funding. Better use of physical resources, such as land and classrooms, contributes significantly to financial efficiency. Improved financial disclosure, meanwhile, is essential for instilling confidence in institutional management. In many countries, legal requirements for disclosure are outdated. Relevant financial indicators must be developed and systems instigated so that they can be generated regularly and accurately.

International donors have an important role to play in the financing of higher education systems. Much of the final day was devoted to assessing the role of international assistance organisations and this forms the subject of the final section of this report.

Four: international support for the reform process

Many participants felt that there was a need for a fundamental shift in the balance of power between donor organisations and recipient countries.

Zulfiqar Gilani, Vice Chancellor of the University of Peshawar, for instance, suggested that donors should only be involved in higher education once developing countries had finalised their vision and strategy for reform. A process where developing countries set targets, and elicit donor support where required, was broadly supported by delegates.

This approach accords with the policies of many donors. The Department for International Development, for example, is moving towards making the Poverty Reduction Strategy Process the key aid instrument. It is also continuing to develop the Sector-Wide Approach, whereby education is treated on a holistic basis, with funding directed at the whole education sector in a country.

The World Bank's policies are similar, although the Bank seems to be part way through a notable shift towards a more favourable attitude to higher education. Toby Linden, Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank, represented the World Bank and presented its draft paper - 'Constructing Knowledge Societies: New Challenges for Tertiary Education'.

According to Linden, the growing importance of knowledge for social and economic progress has led to a reappraisal of higher education, which has a vital role in the "creation, dissemination and application" of knowledge. Linden outlined the importance of tertiary education to both local knowledge generation and the adaptation of existing global knowledge to local challenges. He also alluded to tertiary education's role in strengthening the entire education system and the synergies between all forms of education.

Higher education systems in developing countries are currently ill equipped to face the new challenges. The state therefore needs to set up an "enabling framework" to encourage the development of tertiary institutions. At the same time, Linden continued, the World Bank can assist by drawing on its international experience, mobilizing resources, bringing key national stakeholders into the process and providing exposure to the relevant international experience. Bank involvement would be based on the need for change in a country, a willingness to reform, and knowledge of the sector.

Seminar participants welcomed what they saw as the Bank's change of focus, but many expressed concerns that its relative lack of involvement in the sector in recent years might have left it without a sufficient knowledge base from which to plan interventions in the future. Participants asked what knowledge base the Bank would use for furthering its role and deciding whether countries fit the criteria for involvement. Some questioned whether the Bank had any legitimacy in higher education after neglecting the sector for so long. There were penetrating questions about where the Bank's comparative advantage lay and where it could most effectively act.

There were calls for the Bank to support regional reform networks and networks of social entrepreneurs. Toby Linden expressed the Bank's willingness to support regional co-operation, but added that the Bank must avoid supplanting regional agencies and that it is required to lend to national governments.

Linden also argued that the Bank is a far less monolithic organisation than it may appear from the outside. Country strategies are formulated on a country-by-country basis, with policy not centrally determined. "Good practices" in one country can be useful in helping another make policy choices, but need to be adapted for implementation. In his conclusion, Linden noted that the World Bank, like everybody else, is trying to find its way through these constantly changing issues. It does not, he added, have all the answers.

Representatives from other international agencies the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (Nuffic), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA) joined the debate on donor policy. The discussion revolved around the nature of aid or loans on offer; the information base on which donors made decisions; and the burden that reporting requirements placed on organisations within developing countries.

The production of a common reporting standard was described as a potential global public good, and one that donors could usefully contribute to developing. Currently, much of the energy of change agents can be taken up writing proposals for assistance, managing funds and then writing annual reports on how they have been used. Standardised procedures would lead to the much more effective use of funds.

Funding research on the impact of higher education and higher education reform is another area where donors can make an impact. Although there is widespread agreement that current rate of return analysis is inadequate, there is currently a dearth of ideas about what can best replace it. Robust research about the nature, and scale, of the public and private benefits from higher education would be of great import in continuing to build high-level support for higher education reform in developing countries.

There is also a need for evidence on the reform process, especially work that goes beyond case studies to analysis of what has worked and why. Action research would be of immediate value to other higher educational reformers. UNESCO is currently planning a new higher education research forum and it is hoped that the work they sponsor will begin to fill these gaps.

The session on donor perspectives was characterised by a sense of some division between international agencies and developing countries. Mouzinho Mario of Mozambique's Universidade Eduardo Mondiane, responded to this, suggesting that, "we are partners in the process of change." However, most delegates believed that it is essential that the South is the leading partner. Networks of reform must develop between developing countries, which have the most to learn from each other's experiences.

Over the course of the conference, a proposal to launch such a network took shape and this forms the core of the concluding section of this report.


The South-South Higher Education Reform Network is a tangible output from the Peril to Promise seminar, representing an attempt to develop a "dense policy community" across developing countries.

Twenty-three participants agreed to act as founder members of the network, with Tariq Banuri agreeing to facilitate the network's foundation. Proposed activities for the network range from meetings to pooling information to advising national governments on the reform process.

The Network adopted the following draft statement:

We are a group of individuals with an interest in and commitment to the improvement of the systems of higher education in developing countries, as a means of enabling these countries to consolidate democratic governance, empower hitherto marginalized groups, promote equity and social cohesion, and contribute to economic growth.

We believe that a central component of the strategy to promote such change is to create, nurture, and strengthen communities of change at institutional, national and global levels. Many of us are involved in a variety of networks of this type at national and/or institutional levels. We believe that the time has come to bring together a community of change at the global level as well.

Accordingly, we agree today to join together in founding the South-South Higher Education Reform Network (SSHERN). We will jointly draft a vision statement and principles of operation for the network in order to invite a broad spectrum of stakeholders from around the world to join the network.

The objectives of the network are to facilitate mutual learning about processes of change in the systems of higher education in developing countries, promote research, and function as a cradle of social entrepreneurship and a touchstone of ideas. A related objective is to cultivate shared norms of behaviour and standards of conduct for institutions of higher education, scholars and teachers, policy makers and financial donors. Finally, the network will organise conferences, workshops and symposia.

We are mindful of other initiatives being taken up at regional and international levels, especially by UNESCO, and expect a close cooperation between the SSHERN and these initiatives.

The network is a vehicle for cure, rather than diagnosis. As such it represents a natural - and worthy - successor to the Task Force on Higher Education.

Reflecting on this fact, Henry Rosovsky closed the meeting, quoting a 1942 speech by Winston Churchill: "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
We have moved from the Task Force report, titled Peril and Promise, to the seminar, titled Peril to Promise.
It is now up to the seminar participants, Rosovsky concluded, to turn promise into achievement.

Event Directors:

- Henry Rosovsky
- David Bloom
- David Steven


Email Mark Weston