The Higher Education Policy Observatory provides information on higher education policies and governance systems worldwide
In today’s interconnected world, higher education plays a significant role in shaping individuals and societies. However, the lack of comparable international data on HE systems still represents an important obstacle to better understand the variety of higher education policies and systems in different contexts, as well as general trends. In this context, researchers’ capacity to analyze higher education policies effectively is hindered, and so is policymakers’ ability to take the most relevant decisions based on evidence.
Without comparable international data, stakeholders’ capacity to identify best practices and undertake early interventions to solve emerging problems is considerably limited. For example, specific and localized strategies employed by some countries to promote inclusivity, improve teaching quality, or boost graduate employability, often go unnoticed if systematic channels to communicate their existence are not in place.
Beyond decision-making, the lack of comparable data inhibits the potential for collaboration between countries. Comparative analysis builds mutual understanding and provides valuable insights into innovative approaches and collaborative responses to shared challenges, such as improving access to higher education, providing mobility opportunities to students and staff, or coordinate response to social or environmental crises. Without access to comparable information, opportunities for cross-border learning are lost, along with possibilities to tackle common challenges that transcend national boundaries.
As countries strive for progress and collaboration in higher education, comparable international data could be used as a telescope by governments and academics to navigate the global landscape of higher education, identify emerging patterns, and anticipate shifts in student needs, employers demand, or technological advances. They can also estimate the expected outcomes of initiatives, prioritize their actions, and design their strategies.
Recognizing the pressing need for accessible and comparable international data in higher education, UNESCO IESALC is working diligently to bridge this gap. As part of its initiative for policymakers, the Higher Education Policy Hub, the Institute has developed an online platform, the Higher Education Policy Observatory, that centralizes information on higher education policies and governance systems worldwide. This platform displays comparative information on nearly 150 countries through 40 indicators drawn from a battery of 150 variables and over 22.000 data points.
The Higher Education Policy Observatory aims to provide higher education researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders with a reliable resource to facilitate cross-country analysis, foster collaboration, and facilitate evidence-based decisions. By uniting public information from diverse official sources under a common framework, UNESCO IESALC contributes to paving the way for a brighter future in global higher education that facilitates higher education for all.
The first regional launch -Latin America and the Caribbean- was attended by Denise Pires De Carvalho, Secretary for Higher Education at the Ministry of Education, Brazil; Dameon Black, Executive Director at the Tertiary Education Commission, Jamaica; and Gonzalo Baroni Boces, National Director of Education at the Ministry of Education and Culture, Uruguay. They agreed on the importance of being able to count on a platform that will undoubtedly be of great importance, especially for policy makers and researchers.
For UNESCO IESALC, Francesc Pedró, Director; Victoria Galán-Muros, Chief of Research and Analysis, and Mathías Bouckaert, Analyst, presented the tool and the Higher Education Policy Hub.
The platform will allow users to:
- Visualize key information on higher education systems and policies in each country.
- Compare different higher education systems on each indicator in a free and easy-to-use way
- Access global and regional overviews on specific indicators through maps and graphs.