February 2011

Executive Summary - Higher Education and the Formation of Developmental Elites

Laura Brannelly, Laura Lewis, Susy Ndaruhutse

There is increasing recognition that overcoming the challenges of development will require leadership across the public and private sectors. But how do developmental leaders emerge and acquire the necessary skills and values to lead? How might higher education influence this process, and how can it contribute towards improved governance?

This paper addresses the hitherto neglected question of whether and how higher education may contribute to the emergence of developmental leadership. It undertakes data analysis mapping higher education gross enrolment rates (GERs) with a 20-year lag against the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators, used here as a proxy for the existence of developmental elites.

The study explores the multiple purposes and broadening scope of higher education, its potential for improving governance, and the changing nature of national government and donor support. As well as analysis of global patterns and regional variations, the report includes country case studies from Singapore, Jordan, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

This first phase of research has identified a positive correlation between higher education and good governance.While at this stage no definitive causation can be established, a review of literature illustrates ways in which higher education can contribute towards the formation of developmental elites. The paper also suggests some themes for future consideration, both for the international community and in planning the later stages of this research.

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Executive Summary - Higher Education and the Formation of Developmental Elites

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