AS the world seeks to build back better in a new era of green and equitable economic growth, a new World Bank report stresses that smart investments and reforms in tertiary education systems are at the heart of major transformations required throughout economies and societies.
Presented during the United Nations’ General Assembly meetings, the new policy approach paper, Steering Tertiary Education Towards Resilient Systems that Deliver for All, examines the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the global tertiary education sector and identifies policies that can promote a resilient recovery.
The report reinforces the imperative that every country invests thoughtfully and strategically in diversified, well-articulated, and inclusive tertiary education systems, as this is vital for the development of human capital and innovation to spur long-term growth.
Consequently, it proposes a framework to guide policies and investments in tertiary education, comprising five principles to steer tertiary systems and institutions toward greater relevance and impact.
This includes building diversified systems by shaping a strong contribution of tertiary education to both growth and competitiveness, and also social cohesion and human development.
“We encourage countries to address the challenges brought by the pandemic; to build back better, more equitable, efficient, and resilient tertiary education systems”— World Bank Vice-President for Human Development Mamta Murthi
It adds that positioning tertiary education in a lifelong learning context, with flexible pathways allowing for access to different types of institutions and greater adaptability to the labour market needs and opportunities, was vital and achievable by “investing smartly in new technologies; profiting from digitalisation to support improvements in teaching and research capacity; innovation and agility in service delivery; and the building of a digital ecosystem, which, overall, make tertiary education systems more resilient” the report proposed.
Additionally, it recommends countries ensure equity in access and financing, achieve efficiency in resource utilisation, and acquire resilience in service delivery for learning to continue.
World Bank Vice-President for Human Development Mamta Murthi emphasised that, “Tertiary education is central to the development process — it is essential for the creation of opportunities, competitiveness, and growth. We encourage countries to address the challenges brought by the pandemic; to build back better, more equitable, efficient, and resilient tertiary education systems.”
The bank said it had been providing support for tertiary education reforms and innovation since 1963 by collaborating with governments, tertiary education institutions and other stakeholders across the globe.