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Higher Education Policy

The Higher Education Policy team carries out analysis on a wide range of higher education systems and policies. Its work takes place with the advice of the Informal Working Group on Higher Education (IWGHE), which meets regularly to review and comment on its activities, and whose delegates typically include representatives responsible for higher education policy within ministries of education or other governmental bodies, and as well as specially invited experts and stakeholders.

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Labour Market Relevance and Outcomes of Higher Education

The Labour Market Relevance and Outcomes of Higher Education Project provides actionable recommendations on how higher education policies can promote good labour market outcomes for higher education graduates. Country reviews assess the alignment of the supply and demand for higher education graduates; identify potential drivers of graduates’ labour market outcomes; and point to policy options with the potential to improve the articulation of higher education systems and labour markets, and graduate labour market outcomes. Reviews have been completed in Norway and Mexico, a review is underway in the United States, and reviews will commence in four EU member states. A series of Working Papers examine key topics within the project, including how labour market information is communicated to – and used by – learners; the emergence and impact of “alternative credentials”; and how “big data” can be used to understand the graduate skills sought by employers.

The Higher Education Resources Project

Higher education policymakers face difficult questions of resource allocation, such as how to fund higher education institutions, how to efficiently organise student lending, and whether the cost savings of part-time and temporary staff outweigh the potentially adverse effects on the quality of teaching and research. The Higher Education Resources Project assists policymakers in addressing these challenges. It offers country reviews that provide a comprehensive examination of resource allocation and use, and offer detailed policy recommendations from an international panel. Countries may also opt for one or more thematic policy briefs, which develop diagnostic analyses that help countries understand their own resourcing challenges in a comparative perspective, and identify policy reform priorities. The project will offer a series of international peer learning workshops in which countries and experts come together to compare their experiences, and synthesis reports providing in-depth comparative policy analyses.

National Reviews of Higher Education Policy

These are customised reviews undertaken at the request of countries, and tailored to the particular higher education policy challenges they face. In some cases, authorities and higher education stakeholders may be looking for an external perspective on their entire higher education governance and policy framework, often as an input to a major higher education reform or new strategy. This was the case in the 2018 review of higher education in Mexico, The Future of Mexican Higher Education: Promoting Quality and Equity. In other cases, countries may wish to draw on OECD expertise in different fields in multi-disciplinary reviews, as in the review of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation in Portugal, which involved joint efforts from OECD teams working on higher education, innovation, and research. Alternatively, countries may request a review focusing on a particular facet of higher education policy, such as the review Rethinking Quality Assurance for Higher Education in Brazil, also completed at the end of 2018.

Enhancing the Higher Education Evidence Base

The Higher Education Policy team supports the expansion of the higher education evidence base available to OECD member countries, advising on the development of new indicators, and developing new data resources. A new strand of work on Enhancing Higher Education Evidence will strengthen the internationally comparable evidence base, through two new activities. An international data collection on Higher Education Institutions, based upon extant national and international collections of institutional data, will greatly enhance capacity for policy-relevant analysis at a level of granularity appropriate for the heterogeneous higher education systems across the OECD. A recurring fixed-response Higher Education Policy Survey will update the comparative knowledge base on areas of policy priority identified by member countries. The first of these surveys will take place in 2020 on the topic of resourcing higher education. In 2021, in line with expressions of country interest, the proposed topic for the survey is quality assurance policies and metrics in higher education systems.

The Informal Working Group on Higher Education

The Informal Working Group on Higher Education (IWGHE) was initiated by the Education Policy Committee in 2014 to develop and oversee projects focusing on higher education systems and policies. The IWGHE provides guidance and advice to the Secretariat on its higher education policy projects. Meetings of the IWGHE provide countries with an opportunity to review and comment on the work of the Secretariat, and share national higher education policies and practices with one another. Delegates typically include representatives responsible for higher education policy within ministries of education or other governmental bodies, and can include specially invited representatives of expert bodies.

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