Group of students working together

Higher education

There are around 220 million students enrolled in universities around the world. Yet despite the boom in demand, the overall enrolment ratio is 37% with large differences between countries and regions. UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate in higher education and works with countries to ensure high quality higher education opportunities are available to everyone. It places a special focus on inclusion, the recognition of qualifications and quality assurance, particularly in developing countries. 

UNESCO works to increase students’ opportunities and mobility through the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education and the UNESCO Qualifications Passport for Refugees and Vulnerable Migrants among other instruments. It helps countries develop their own quality assurance agencies and networks.   

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The number of students in universities has more than doubled globally in the last two decades to 235 million. And it’s expected to double again in the next decade, along with international student mobility.

Higher education conversations

UNESCO is organizing a series of conversations on higher education in the leadup to the 3rd World Higher Education Conference, taking place in Barcelona, Spain from 18 to 20 May 2022.

higher education conversations
UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks

Building bridges between universities globally

Higher technical education in Africa

Matching skills with the labour market

Key figures

220 million
students are enrolled in universities,

a figure that has doubled in the last 15 years

5.3 million
are studying abroad,

up from 2 million in 2000

Knowledge-driven actions: transforming higher education for global sustainability
COVID-19: reopening and reimagining universities, survey on higher education through the UNESCO National Commissions

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