This paper, written by researchers at the Universities of Pennsylvania and Columbia in the United States, examines various aspects of higher education in developing countries including its impact on economic development.

The authors discuss the growing demand for higher education in developing countries, analysing the contributing factors and presenting examples of different country responses. In particular, they examine the trends in China, India and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Some broader challenges facing developing countries, including governance, brain drain, equity and access, and regulation and accreditation are outlined. They also examine the role the international community — including major donors such as the World Bank — has played in supporting higher education in the developing world.

The authors highlight the general lack of data on higher education and call for more research on how, and even whether, higher education works in developing countries.