Review of "The diversification of post-secondary education: New trends in higher education", prepared for UNESCO and the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) (Gugu Buthelezi, Renay Pillay, and Siphesihle Mavundla)

The International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) analyses varying patterns of diversification in the PSE sector. The analysis focuses on institutional arrangements for the provision of Post School Education (PSE), the growth and expansion of the sector, the types of courses offered in PSE institutions, the extent of employment/unemployment among PSE graduates and the mechanisms of financing post-secondary education.

Case studies were carried out in five countries: Azerbaijan, Chile, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and Nigeria. These countries are at varied levels of higher education development, as reflected in their gross enrolment ratios (GERs) for higher education in 2008. The expansion of PSE is common to all of them and is in line with global trends. Nearly 40 percent of all students enrolled in post-secondary programmes in Azerbaijan attend non-university institutions (partly because the government fixes university enrolment targets). Korea has reached universal levels of enrolment in higher education, and therefore the possibilities of further expanding the higher education system are rather limited. In Malaysia and Nigeria, enrolments in PSE increased in different categories of institutions.

On the basis of the case studies, the publication developed a classification of PSE institutions into four categories: 1) universities, 2) colleges/non-university institutions, 3) tertiary short-cycle institutions and 4) post-secondary non-tertiary institutions.

The case studies indicate that the pressure from both expanding secondary education and the employment market demand for relevant skills resulted in a more diversified system of post-secondary education, consisting of universities and non-university institutions.

The publication found that diversification has helped expand PSE, very often with resource support from non-government sources, especially in non-university PSE institutions. Thus the expansion and multiplicity of PSE providers pose challenges to planning and managing this particular segment of the education sector. Further, it is becoming increasingly difficult for national governments to manage the PSE system. Many institutions operate under different ministries and councils and coordinating the activities of these varied agencies presents a challenge. In addition, the existence of many private agencies poses a further challenge in devising integrated plans for the development of tertiary education. There is an increasingly felt need to define clearly the national policies and evolving mechanisms required to regulate PSE. The publication recommends that Ministries of higher education and institutions should therefore do much more to support regulated expansion of PSE and ensure that its provision is of high quality.

The publication is available at:

Gugu Buthelezi is an Intern in the Directorate: Research Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Department of Higher Education and Training.
Renay Pillay is Acting Deputy Director in the Research Coordination Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate, DHET.
Siphesihle Mavundla is an intern in the Sub-Directorate: Research Coordination Monitoring and Evaluation, DHET.

For further information contact Gugu Buthelezi at or Renay Pillay at and  Siphesihle Mavundla at