This publication is an outcome of a strategic conversation about the future of higher education in the region. It is intended to serve as an input into the process of defining a future vision for its development. It reports on two interesting developments flowing from the scenario-building workshop.
Firstly, the publication explores the requirements and policy implications for significantly scaling up higher education in the region by modelling a base, optimistic and normative scenario for enrolment growth in higher education in SADC. The modelling exercise, undertaken by the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, reveals that the region has consistently outperformed sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) as a whole, but that SADC still lags behind most other regions of the world in secondary and tertiary enrolment. Enrolment in tertiary education underwent a massive amount of growth, but because this was off a low base, total enrolment in SADC only increased from .17% in 1960 to 6.3% in 2010. SADC spending on education is very close to what the high-income economies spend and well above the amount spent by the developing countries combined. Despite these efforts, it was found that SADC would be unable to achieving the current global average of 30% tertiary participation by 2025, even in a highly optimistic scenario in which SADC enjoys a period of low population growth, high economic growth and high education spending. It is argued that this gap can, however, be closed with good education policies sustained over a long period of time.
Secondly, the publication reports on the outcomes of the scenario-planning workshop. Participants at the workshop identified technological change and human capability as the primary factors underlying, structuring and shaping the higher education sector in SADC. Four scenarios were formulated in which these factors impacted the future in different ways. At the same time, participants mapped the findings of the scenarios against the thematic priorities for higher education development identified by SARUA.