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Higher Education

Status: Active
  • Lead Organization

    The Center for Mediterranean Integration.



    In the Mediterranean, youth are bearing the brunt of the crises and undergoing exclusion on the economic, social and political levels, with high unemployment and a lack of opportunities to take part in public life. Nevertheless, they represent the Mediterranean region’s best opportunity. A massive investment in human capital is needed, in particular in quality education, relevant not only in the local context, but also at the international level, to allow the youth to meet their aspirations by granting them access to propitious channels of opportunity both locally and abroad. 

    The character of young people’s transitions from education to employment, from dependents to providers, will be determined by governments’ capacities to deliver relevant and quality education. The internationalization of higher education has an important role to play in such efforts, thanks to its capacity not only to help increase the quality and relevance of higher education, but also to boost students’ 21st century skills, crucial for their employability in today's labor markets. Indeed, internationalization can be an important means of building global citizenship, a key priority today for UNESCO in its work towards meeting SDG 4 on education.



    • Improve the quality and relevance of higher education by promoting increased internationalization
    • Increase the mobility of people and knowledge
    • Strengthen the employability of students on today’s labor markets
    • Contribute to the capacity building of higher education institutions by facilitating knowledge exchange and sharing of best practices
    • Promote the development of 21st century skills, especially intercultural and socioemotional competencies, and contribute to building students’ global citizenship


    Selected Outcomes

    Regional report “Internationalization of Tertiary Education in the Middle East and North Africa” published in 2020: The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could benefit from increased internationalization of its higher education sector, yet it has not taken full advantage of this opportunity. The CMI - World Bank report was conceived to provide a crucial baseline in research on internationalization in the region, and it maintains that internationalization of higher education is a critical part of the reforms needed in education and training in the region. The report details the benefits of internationalization, assesses the current state of internationalization of higher educational institutions across MENA, and provides some policy recommendations, including a first analysis of internationalization in the COVID-19 context. The report suggests that, despite the challenges that the crisis presents, it may also provide an opportunity for MENA to accelerate its efforts to internationalize its higher education systems.


    The CMI presented the report as part of the World Bank MENA Chief Economist seminar series in June  2020. The report was then officially released at a virtual seminar co-organized by the CMI and the Qatar Foundation in January 2021, and its findings were discussed. Further ongoing dissemination of the report aims to stimulate the policy debate on internationalization in MENA in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.


    Regional policy dialogue on internationalization of tertiary education in MENA: In partnership with key stakeholders in the region, including the Qatar Foundation, the Tethys Consortium of Euro-Mediterranean Universities managed by the University of Aix-Marseille, UNESCO and the UfM, the CMI launched a regional policy dialogue on the internationalization of higher education in MENA. On the basis of its report Internationalization of Tertiary Education in MENA, the CMI co-organized two online events: 


    • Internationalization of Tertiary Education in MENA in the COVID-19 Context'', January 2021, jointly organized with the Qatar Foundation, in partnership with the Tethys Consortium of Euro-Mediterranean Universities managed by the Aix-Marseille University, and with high-level participation from UNESCO and the World Bank. It marked the official launch of the CMI-World Bank report "Internationalization of Tertiary Education in the Middle East and North Africa", the first MENA region-wide report on the subject. With over 100 participants, the webinar gave voice to several stakeholders from across the region, launching a regional policy dialogue between representatives of higher education institutions, governments, and development institutions on the internationalization of higher education, especially in the COVID-19 context.
    • A Quality Higher Education for all in the Mediterranean: Towards a Renewed Higher Education Agenda”, June 2021, jointly organized with the UfM, this web-event aimed to offer decision-makers, practitioners and experts a space to discuss topics and share best practices relevant to the improvement of higher education quality in the region. The discussions and recommendations aimed to help to boost engagement at the political level and push towards charting a path for possible future UfM Ministerial declarations.


    Participation in UNESCO’s work on Global Citizenship Education, October 2021 event: in the context of UNESCO’s work on GCED in higher education in the MENA region, the CMI presented its report and how internationalization, with its capacity to boost students’ 21st century skills and global and intercultural competencies, can act as a key means of building global citizenship in the region.


    Knowledge exchange through University Governance Screening Card network: Middle Eastern and North African universities have had governance reform on their agenda for some time. In an effort to address reform, CMI and the World Bank created the University Governance Screening Card to support governance and accountability reforms in higher educational institutions and to bridge the gap between supply of and demand for skills. 


    The screening card assesses to what extent higher educational institutions follow governance practices aligned with their institutional goals, and allows these institutions to monitor their progress over time and compare themselves with other institutions. Information collected as part of this effort has laid the foundation for future systematic monitoring of university performance. In this framework, regional conferences were held annually throughout 2011 - 2017. Notably, the topics addressed were enlarged to include internationalization, and it was in this context that a demand for research on internationalization was voiced, and the internationalization report conceived.

    A network focal point virtual meeting was held in May 2020 to discuss and assess how the network could be mobilized to provide insights and encourage good practices that ensure the continuity and adaptability of higher education during the COVID-19 global pandemic. This resulted in the relaunching of the network through the first webinar in a series on challenges that higher educational institutions are facing, such as internationalization in the COVID-19 context (see section above for further information).


    Flagship Reports



    Flagship Activities



    Giulia Marchesini, Human Capital Senior Programme Manager, CMI/UNOPS