Last update: 3 August 2023

The basic human right to education does not start and end with school education. Higher education is an integral part of the right to education throughout life, from pre-school to lifelong learning. Participation in higher education has rapidly increased around the world and in some countries, higher education is now accessed by over half the population. Yet the right to quality higher education is far from universal. A wide range of structural inequalities persist, many of which have been put under the spotlight during the Covid-19 pandemic. Societal discrimination, financial restrictions, limited flexibility and relevance of higher education provision, uneven quality of providers, and population displacement are among the pressures impeding the right to higher education today. Despite the barriers higher education has faced, especially regarding teaching and learning, global examples of resilience, resistance, and innovation show how the right to higher education is an imperative to support the work and advocacy for more socially just societies. 

What you need to know about the right to higher education 

Right to Higher Education Repository 

The Right to Higher Education Repository holds the full collection of written and audiovisual materials relating to UNESCO’s work on the right to higher education.

What is the right to higher education?

Find out more about the right to higher education.


Tracking policies and practices that aim to improve the right to higher education around the world.


Regional perspectives on the challenges to the right to higher education and possible ways forward.


Focussing on barriers and opportunities for the right to higher education for equity deserving student groups.

Special Rapporteur on the Right to Higher Education

Specially recorded message from the UN Special Rapporteur.