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PRESS RELEASE Report Launch: “Breaking Even or Breaking Through: Reaching Financial Sustainability while providing High Quality Standards in Higher Education in the Middle East and North Africa” In the wake of the global crisis and the Arab Spring, young people in the Middle East and North Africa are demanding change. In particular they seek better opportunities to study and work, putting the burden on universities and governments to improve their options for higher education. Universities and higher education systems are uniquely positioned to address these issues, particularly as student enrollment increases: Between 2000 and 2008, average enrollment across the region increased 20-30%. However, in addition to increasing stress on education quality, this rapid expansion has increased the pressure on already-scarce public finances. MENA countries already invest more of their GDP to education on average than other countries of similar per capita income, but on an expenditures-per-student basis, the higher education systems in MENA appear underfunded. For example, Egypt spends about 8 percent of its GDP on education (compared to 6 percent on average in OECD countries) but this represents only about 23 percent of GDP per student in higher education, taking into account purchasing power parity (compared to 36 percent on average in OECD countries and 55 percent in lower middle income countries). As in the case of OECD countries confronted with the expansion of higher education a few decades ago, in moving from elite to broad access, increased financial resources and equity in the allocation of those resources are concerns in MENA. Increasing public resources to meet the demands of higher education is unlikely, given fiscal constraints; therefore, countries in MENA will need to diversify their funding sources. Within this framework, the World Bank and the French Development Agency (AFD), in partnership with the Marseille Center for Mediterranean Integration, have prepared a report, “Breaking Even or Breaking Through: How to reach financial sustainability while providing high quality standards in the Middle East and North Africa.” The report discusses the dynamics of financing higher education systems in the MENA region and alternative financing strategies that diversify funding sources and link funding with improved results. The AFD and the World Bank will host a launch of the report on October 21st at the French Development Agency (AFD) in Paris from 3 to 5 pm. After a brief presentation of the report by the authors, the audience will hear comments from the following guests: – Motaz Khorshid – Minister of Higher Education of Egypt; – Hamed Ben Dhia – Former President of University of Sfax, Tunisia;


– Jamila Houfaidi Settar – Dean of Juridical, Economical and Social Sciences Faculty at University of Hassan II, Mohammedia An open debate will follow, and the participants will discuss future steps in financing higher education in the MENA region. The event is open to the media and other interested members of the public. www.cmimarseille.org About the Marseille Centre for Mediterranean Integration (CMI): it is a multi-partnership platform for knowledge production and dissemination, researching in topics such as education, employment, labor mobility, environment, urban development and transport. The CMI‟s partners are the governments of France, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, city of Marseille, French Development Agency (AFD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB). The administration of the Center is currently in charge of the World Bank. ________________________________________________________________________________ For further information, please contact Ms. Jennifer Barry: jbarry@worldbank.org


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