Access, Equity and Competitiveness: The Case of Higher Education in Egypt

Type Journal Article - Towards an Arab Higher Education Space: International Challenges and Societal Responsibilities
Title Access, Equity and Competitiveness: The Case of Higher Education in Egypt
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
Page numbers 159
For decades academics and policymakers alike have recognized the importance of education in developing human capital, alleviating poverty, improving income distribution and in more recent literature, enhancing national competitiveness. Higher education in particular is playing a larger role than ever when it comes to national prosperity. Egypt has made significant progress in improving access and enrollment in institutions of higher education. College enrollment has risen steadily from 6.9 percent in 1970 to 20% percent in 1995 to 27.5 percent in 2005. However, access is not equal among all segments of society – to the detriment if Egypt’s national competitiveness. This study seeks to examine the link between equal access to higher education, and national competitiveness in Egypt. Data from household income and expenditure surveys from the years 1994 /1995 and 2004/ 2005 is used to shed light on the progress in access during the past ten years. Emphasis is placed on the distribution of educational opportunities according to a) income groups b) gender and c) geographic regions. It is shown that access to higher education is biased against poor income quintiles and rural geographical regions. A key conclusion is that quality and equality in higher education are mutually reinforcing goals that are necessary for competitiveness. With a relatively small portion of the Egyptian population receiving quality higher education future prospects for growth and prosperity will be jeopardized.

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