UNESCO Higher Education Global Data Report
Higher education has a central role in accomplishing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in its three integrated and indivisible dimensions of economic, social and environmental development. The higher education sector has the responsibility of co-creating knowledge and innovations that allow progress in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has the mission of educating citizens as social agents who can become leaders for sustainable development. Furthermore, the sector and the organizations comprising it have the duty to implement concrete actions to achieve the SDGs and their 169 targets.
The aim of this report is to present the most up-to-date global data available in relation to higher education systems. It intends to provide a picture of the global system-level situation around SDG target 4.3, centring on the equality of conditions that permit quality higher learning, at personal, community and societal levels. The right to higher education and our mandate to ensure equal access to quality education for all guide our search for metrics that show us progress, setbacks and gaps.
The report addresses five dimensions essential for realizing SDG target 4.3 and that have some internationally comparable quantitative data: participation in higher education, equity and inclusion, quality of higher education, financing of higher education and the impacts of COVID-19 on higher education. The existence and development of higher education has multiple other dimensions, which exceed the scope of this first summary report, including the rich landscape of research resources, collaborations, results and impact, as well as the important and diverse area of community engagement. Public and institutional higher education policies and related aspects of governance and management are central for steering and operating higher education systems, but global quantitative data is limited on these matters.
Data availability is a significant limitation in the construction of this report. Official quantitative data available globally focus on essential, yet limited, dimensions of higher education. This report relies on multiple sources that apply different methodologies, timeframes, geographical orientations and data validation procedures. This permits reporting on topics that would otherwise be omitted.
As the only UN agency with a mandate addressing higher education, UNESCO upholds the need to orchestrate global higher education data efforts. We invite member States, other international organisations, researchers and relevant companies to be part of this collective effort. For related questions in Asia-Pacific, please contact us: eisd.bgk(at)unesco.org.
Excerpt from: UNESCO, 2022, Higher education global data report (Summary). A contribution to the World Higher Education Conference 18-20 May 2022.