Mission and Strategy

UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate in higher education. The Organization promotes higher education in an increasingly knowledge-based society as a key factor for cultural, economic and social development, as an endogenous capacity-builder and as a promoter of human rights, sustainable development, democracy, peace and justice. 

It facilitates the development of evidence-based policies in response to new developments in this field. Its action contributes to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and particularly poverty eradication.  

The Organization fosters innovation to meet education and workforce needs and examines ways of increasing higher education opportunities for young people from vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

It deals with cross-border higher education and quality assurance, with a special focus on mobility and recognition of qualifications. It provides tools to protect students and other stakeholders from low-quality provision of higher education. UNESCO promotes policy dialogue and contributes to enhancing quality education, strengthening research capacities in higher education institutions, and knowledge sharing across borders. 

UNESCO supports the establishment of sustainable higher education systems by:

  • building and strengthening capacities at the national level;
  • providing global leadership concerning teacher training and related policy issues;
  • developing policy options for an educational response to the challenges of globalization through research and knowledge-sharing; and
  • assisting Member States in planning for and developing sustainable policies in the use of ICTs in education in a lifelong learning perspective. 

UNESCO’s assistance to Member States aims to support policies and strategies that ensure equal opportunities and wider access to quality higher education.

Underlying all actions is the growing recognition of the role played by effective higher education systems in supporting progress towards EFA goals.


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