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Developing a  Network  to  support   Quality  and  Governance  in  Higher   Education   A Network for University Governance stands out as an achievable first step in the drive for collaboration on a number of Higher Education issues.

Background on the WB/CMI Higher Education Program Higher education (HE) systems worldwide are faced with three challenges: providing young people with the skills required by the job market; improving access to high quality services; and seeking out new sources of financing to cope with the growing student demand. Although most countries in the world are facing these same issues, the problem is particularly acute in MENA, where student numbers have risen dramatically in the past ten years, with average enrollments climbing from 20 to 30 percent of the relevant age group in a tenyear period and where university graduates have the highest unemployment rates in the world. Recognizing the need to approach these challenges through multi-country collaboration, the CMI-based MENA regional Higher Education Program – in itself a true experiment in creating a Knowledge Hub – developed partnerships with European and world-class institutions, an approach that had the advantage of both engaging countries in a multi-country dialogue with the aim of finding solutions that can yield benefits at the country level and at the same time promoting knowledge sharing, skilled labor mobility and regional integration. From European partners, the WB/CMI Higher Education Program has sought to build on the tools conceived to improve post-basic education outcomes and increase labor mobility. These include the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the tools that emerged from the Bologna process brought in to harmonize higher education programs, provide quality control and emphasize outcomes, which are being used not only for countries in the European Union, but also for those aspiring to be part of the European Higher Education Area. From the MENA region, the Program has sought to build partnerships with Ministries of Higher Education, National and Regional Agencies of Quality Assurance, and university presidents by developing a network of practitioners, using the CMI platform for knowledge exchange, and setting the basis for wide outreach and a network of networks supported by the use of ICT (found at:


This WB/CMI Higher Education Program used Technical Assistance as a tool to increase awareness of some of the most compelling issues faced by higher education systems and institutions in the region, and to build the capacity of universities, Ministries of Higher Education, Quality Assurance Agencies and research institutions in MENA with the aim of helping them modernize, improve the quality of programs on offer and achieve international standards. By doing this, participating universities would be able to participate in the mutual recognition of programs and credits with European and OECD universities, while the ultimate goal is to improve the quality and relevance of the skills of young graduates and, consequently, improve their chances of finding quality jobs. To achieve these goals the current program led by WB-CMI has three pillars: 1. Benchmarking University Governance 2. Seeking Financial Sustainability of Higher Education 3. Internationalization of Higher Education and implications for Skills mobility For each of these, the program has worked to respond to identified issues by collaborating with world experts as well as partners on the ground – university presidents and Ministries of Education, Higher Education, and Finance -- to produce evidenced-based reports. It has also developed an analytical tool, the University Governance Screening Card (UGSC), which has proven useful for MENA institutions, but has also been in demand by other regions, and has the potential for being used on a large scale. As will be discussed in greater detail later, the UGSC assesses the extent to which universities are following governance practices aligned with their institutional goals and international trends, while monitoring this progress over time. In this way, it is a tool that allows individual universities to compare themselves with universities around the world.

Objectives of a Network for Higher Education A Network for Higher Education, that aims to improve the education services available to students through a collaborative effort, seems to be a natural next step.1 Indeed, there has been a consensus on the part of all the organizations interested in this network that, since countries share comparable challenges in higher education quality and relevance, it is logical that a multi-country                                                                                                               1  It  is  important  to  keep  in  mind  the  many  advantages  of  a  network:  a  network  is  an  alliance  of  entities  working  on  a  

common problem  or  issue,  sharing  resources  and  applying  particular  expertise  to  the  task;  some  networks  assign   roles,  splitting  the  task  so  agencies  can  bring  specific  skills  or  capabilities  to  bear;  networks  can  be  collegial  where   intellectual  property  is  shared;  a  network  sets  a  basis  for  cooperation  allowing  those  that  are  resource-­‐rich  but   technically  lacking  opportunities  to  work  with  groups  that  have  hosting  capacity  or  technical  skills  but  limited   resources.  

DRAFT CONCEPT  NOTE  –  INTERNATIONAL  NETWORK  FOR  HIGHER  EDUCATION     approach to addressing these issues be adopted. This is indeed what this agenda sets out to do: to work at a multi-country and multi-agency level with the idea that collaboration is the most effective way to get results at the country level.

Priority Areas Identified University governance is one of the key elements that can lead to improving outcomes. Recent research shows that leadership, government policy and funding, the ability to continually focus on a clear set of goals and institutional policies, development of a strong academic culture and quality of the academic staff are key factors for high performing universities (Altbach and Salmi, 2011). In the MENA region in particular, a number of priority areas, all considered factors contributing to improving higher education quality and relevance, have been identified.2 Building a network to continue the efforts initiated through the CMI/WB HE program could bring together institutions and organizations to form a regional force devoted to the development of Higher Education in the participating countries. Within each of these, there would be three mandates: (1) to assemble a network of experts from both within and outside the participating countries; (2) to carry out research and develop analytical tools and benchmarking systems; (3) to promote knowledge-exchange via various channels: through publications (briefs, think-pieces, reports, or virtually) or through workshops and conferences, and by continuously update the site.

Countries and Partner Organizations While the rationale for this initiative is based on the MENA region, many countries that are close to MENA by culture, trade, or state of development display similar issues and challenges. The participation in the network of systems with varying states of maturity and social and economic backgrounds should be regarded as a way to enrich the knowledge exchange experiences between participants. So, in this light, country participation should not be limited to a particular region or type of higher education system.                                                                                                               2   Recent   WB/CMI   reports   (such   as   the   AFD/WB   -­‐   Report   Breaking   Even   or   Breaking   Through   (October   2011),   the   WB  

regional report:  Universities  through  the  Looking  Glass:  Benchmarking  University  Governance  in  MENA  to  Enable  Higher   Education  Modernization;  and  the  report,      Internationalization  of  Higher  Education  and  implications  for  Skills  Mobility)   as   well   as   employer   surveys,   young   job   applicant   surveys,   and   unemployment   figures   document   these   challenges,   which  can  be  summarized  briefly  as  the  following.  They  offer:  (a)  evidence  on  the  Need  to  Improve  Governance;  (b)   evidence   on   the   need   to   reform   financing   schemes;   (c)   the   need   to   internationalize   Higher   Education   and   improve   Skill  Mobility;  (d)  evidence  on  the  mismatch  between  skills  demanded  and  what  universities  offer;  and  (e)  evidence   from  Employer  Surveys.  


Partnerships should also be diverse and open to organizations that have already been working with the CMI/WB HE program such as the AFD, OECD- IMHE, ANQAHE, AROQA, ISESCO, the British Council, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), as well as Universities and research centers in all the participating countries. A guiding, strategic principle of this partnership, however, is that it is and will remain open to expansion, so that other interested partners may join and strengthen the network. To develop the network of partners, the role of each organization’s commitment and participation will be elaborated, as the network is being established.

A First Step Forward: Developing a Network to Benchmark University Governance Many of the challenges facing Higher Education today are all worthy of attention. And while there could be many ways in which a network could be developed to address these, the work that has already begun – and is well advanced – on Benchmarking Governance could form the basis of a practical first step in the direction of Network-Building. The CMI/WB HE program has already started a university network that can be expanded and strengthened.

Why Governance?      

While University Governance has been the recent focus of tertiary education reform worldwide, it has been particularly relevant in the Middle East and North Africa given the region-wide demand for more responsive and accountable institutions. University governance addresses how universities and higher education systems define and implement their goals, manage their institutions, and monitor their achievements. There is a broad consensus on the importance of the role of governance in improving education quality. This has been especially true in MENA, where higher education representatives have expressed a specific need for a benchmarking tool. In response to this call, the World Bank MENA Higher Education Program based at the Marseille Center for Mediterranean Integration, developed as mentioned earlier the University Governance Screening Card derived from a series of good practice assessment tools used in OECD countries. The tool acknowledges that there is no single model of ‘good governance’ and that the contexts within which universities operate determine their best practice. After a first phase of implementation, in which 41 universities in four countries – Egypt, Morocco, West Bank and Gaza, and Tunisia – were assessed, the screening card has now been implemented in three additional countries, Algeria, Iraq, and Lebanon, bringing the total number of universities screened to over one hundred.


The University Governance Screening Card The UGSC was developed in 2010, taking into account other higher education benchmarking tools. It is based on an extensive review of the literature associated with best standards and practices. The 45 questions of the UCSC questionnaire examine each of the five major elements (or dimensions) of governance: overall context, mission, and goals; management; autonomy; accountability; and participation. (For more details see Jaramillo, 2012 Universities through the Looking Glass, WB/CMI) After responding to the questionnaire, each participating university is able to build a detailed map of its current performance and how it compares with international trends. In addition, the screening card includes a self-perception tool to assess the extent to which universities are aware of the governance model and practices they follow. The aim is not to direct participants toward any ideal model, but rather to help them clarify their respective missions and understand their strengths and weaknesses on five dimensions: Context, Mission and Goals, Management, Autonomy, Accountability and Participation. Once benchmarks for each of the governance dimensions have been established, and their relationship with the overall mission clarified, it is possible to identify specific areas that need updating or reform. Goals can be set, and progress toward attaining them measured. 3 The main findings of the exercise, after use with now more than 100 universities, is that it has allowed universities to better understand their strengths and weaknesses, to learn from each other and use best practices to develop their own governance systems. It is a significant achievement toward the regional goal of improving accountability in service delivery, and will become a cornerstone of the strategy for developing greater capacity of evidence-based policy making related to higher education in MENA. The team also prepared a new website with access to higher education indicators and innovative data visualization tools ( One may consult publications on Financing of Higher Education, Internationalization and other resources on this site – for example, higher education indicators data, higher education at a glance per country, university governance screening card data, and an online university governance survey. The very great advantage of this website is that it has brought together universities                                                                                                               3  For  a  more  detailed  discussion  of  the  UGSC,  one  may  consult  the  report  Universities  through  the  Looking  Glass:  

Benchmarking University  Governance  to  Enable  Higher  Education  Modernization  in  MENA  which  was  prepared   following  the  initial  implementation,  data  analysis  and  validation  of  the  screening  card.  The  report  discusses  the   conceptual  framework  within  which  the  screening  card  was  developed,  the  results  of  the  tool’s  first  round  of   implementation,  and  preliminary  recommendations  for  reform.            

DRAFT CONCEPT  NOTE  –  INTERNATIONAL  NETWORK  FOR  HIGHER  EDUCATION     that have used the UGSC and, in so doing, created for the first time a platform for their communication and exchange. From the interest and use we have already seen of it, this platform has demonstrated a very real desire for a network.

First Alliances with other Organizations Recognizing the very great potential of this tool, two other institutions, the British Council and ISESCO, expressed interest in working with the World Bank and CMI to extend the reach and scope of the UGSC. With this in mind, a series of meetings have been held in Marseille (June 2012) and Rabat, Morocco on July 12, 2012 to explore this possibility. The objectives of the meetings have been to discuss (1) what could be achieved together; (2) how the comparative advantage of each institution could best be enhanced; (3) and what the immediate (6-12 months) and medium term goals might be. A Memorandum of Understanding was endorsed.

Ongoing Demand The University Governance Screening Card has now been used by more than 100 universities in MENA and there is growing interest in this benchmarking exercise from universities around the world and from other organizations (the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), the Association of University Administrators (AUA), and others). From outside of MENA, there is interest from Armenia; from sub-Saharan Africa, interest from Senegal (through the World Bank) and from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa (through the British Council); out of East Asia, interest from Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines; and interest from developed countries/economies, such as Italy, the US, and Quebec.

Issues for Scaling Up and Next Steps Given this interest, developing a Network for University Governance seems to be a logical first step. There would nevertheless be several important questions to answer before moving ahead. The Network would seek to:  Be centralized and yet be able to respond to demand from individual universities, from regions or economies (i.e., Dubai or Quebec) or on a national basis  It must maintain technically-strong benchmarking capabilities while expanding.

DRAFT CONCEPT  NOTE  –  INTERNATIONAL  NETWORK  FOR  HIGHER  EDUCATION      It would rely on in-house capacity and/or on partners and/or outsource with regional organizations for data collection purposes, and for knowledge dissemination and capacity building efforts.  It would aim to encourage collaboration between independent organizations of different types, including at first ISESCO and the British Council  As an instrument to promote learning and knowledge sharing, it would continue to carry out research and development. Indeed, the UGSC would be a first step in monitoring the performance of universities, and the data available will provide the basis for endless research opportunities.  It could grow and develop to offer other services.

Four Business Models to Consider There are many possible business models that could be adopted for scaling up the use of the UGSC. Below are four salient cases adopted by similar initiatives for their interesting features, which represent different governance and funding scenarios and each one is analyzed and their advantages and disadvantages are summarized.

1. The Doing Business Survey 4 The Doing Business Survey (DBS) is a World Bank product led by a World Bank Unit. Part of the FPSD (Finance and Private Sector Development), a joint World Bank and IFC Vice-Presidential unit, the DBS grew out of the Global Indicators Group. It is a service offered on a fee basis to countries and economies around the world. The DBS team works with academic advisors to design the DB survey, which are then administered by more than 9,028 local experts who interact in several rounds with the DBS team. The DBS range of products derived from the survey and data collected includes rankings of economies, a law library, business reform summaries, the Doing Business Report Series, Doing Business-related research, and the Doing Business Research Conference. The strengths inherent in this model derive from the Bank’s reputation and convening power, the possibility of sustained and predictable funding, and the availability of technical capability, while the weaknesses might be that this entity could be too strongly tied to the Bank via funding and that networking may be challenging.

2. The Global Partners for Education


For  a  more  complete  discussion  of  the  DBS  in  comparison  with  the  GPE,  please  see  Annex  1  

DRAFT CONCEPT  NOTE  –  INTERNATIONAL  NETWORK  FOR  HIGHER  EDUCATION     The Global Partners for Education (GPE) is a Bank-led Partnership. The World Bank has a significant role and stake in the partnership, which it launched in collaboration with other donors. It hosts the GPE secretariat, serves as a trustee for education trust funds, and supervises most allocations provided to GPE countries. The GPE is comprised of 46 developing countries and over 30 bilateral, regional, and international agencies, development banks, the private sector, teachers, and local and global civil society groups. The Governance of the GPE is through the Board of Directors, the Secretariat, and the Financial Advisory Committee. The advantage of this model comes from the balance possible between the Bank and international donors through a well-defined governance structure, though it weakness may be that the Secretariat may have to juggle many stake-holders.

3. The IEA-led TIMSS.5 The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Survey (TIMSS) consortium is coordinated by the International Study Center at Boston College and includes the IEA Secretariat, the IEA Data Processing and Research Center, Statistics Canada, and the International Testing Service. TIMSS is funded by the IEA through fees paid by participating countries, with support from the National Center for Education Statistics of the US department of Education. The interest of this model is to be found in the status of the IEA (a non-taxable association) and in the alliance that has evolved between the many technical and implementing agencies involved. Its weakness lies, arguably, in the effort required to run this large, heterogeneous organization.

4. The OECD PISA. The OECD's Program for International Student Assessment is governed via the PISA Governing Board and the OECD Secretariat, which is responsible for the day-to-day management. There are also international contractors (the 'PISA Consortium'), PISA subject matter expert groups, as well as the PISA questionnaire expert group. Each OECD country participating in PISA has a representative and an observer on the PISA Governing Board, appointed by the country's education ministry. The Chair of the PISA Governing Board is chosen by the Board itself. PISA is financed exclusively through direct payments from participants' government authorities, typically the Education Ministries. The strength of the PISA model is that it is manages to bring together a number of agencies and governing bodies to serve a well-defined aim, that of testing                                                                                                               5

For  a  more  complete  discussion  of  TIMSS  in  comparison  with  PISA,  see  Annex  2  

DRAFT CONCEPT  NOTE  –  INTERNATIONAL  NETWORK  FOR  HIGHER  EDUCATION     member countries. Its weakness may however lie in the political influences exerted by these states. Here, in short, is a comparative summary of these business models: Strengths



a World Bank unit and product; sustained technical capability

Possibility being balanced Network?


a balanced Politically governance influenced, structure highly bureaucratic


of Predictable a funding

Backing members

TIMSS a true Management Financing network of of a complex through partners structure (relatively fees


Comments Good potential as a model, provided that partnership is promoted to extend scope via Lessons from building partnerships Partnering with a Prestigious high) Research Entity to guarantee technical integrity

has a strong Political Backing from the Interesting for mandate influences; not interest of building a autonomous member countries balanced model between technical interest and policy concerns

Summary and Next Steps As we have seen, there is a strong case to be made for developing a Network for University Governance as an initial step in creating a more comprehensive Network devoted to the many challenges facing Higher Education. There is great interest from MENA-region and international agencies to work together to develop a Network on Quality and Governance; second, the main instrument to measure Governance, the UGSC, is tried and tested and, third, there is great demand for UGSC services. There are nevertheless a number of questions to consider, questions which we hope you will join us in answering during this conference. We look forward to your views and feedback.

DRAFT CONCEPT  NOTE  –  INTERNATIONAL  NETWORK  FOR  HIGHER  EDUCATION     1. Should the UGSC be formalized? 2. Should it be offered on a regular basis – Yearly? 3. If a network is to be chosen, which business model might make most sense? 4. What funding arrangements to scale up this initiative could be put in place? 5. How can the technical rigor associated with the first benchmarking be assured? 6. What role should the World Bank play? Should it lead this network?  


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