Higher Education Governance in Developing Countries,
Challenges and Recommendations:
Iran as a case study
This paper discusses the challenges to higher education in Iran and summarizes a
range of expert studies, including those of the writer. Common to all the studies is the
goal of improving Iran’s higher education system by analyzing its internal and external
challenges. This review makes several policy recommendations, including a turn from
bureaucratic management to transformational leadership, more resources dedicated to
workforce development and research, and outreach for help and advice from institutions
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Demand for increased access is likely to remain strong, with public and private sectors
seeking to meet it with an array of new higher education institutions. Rapid and chaotic expansion is
usually the result, with the public sector generally under-funded and the private (for-profit) sector focused
on short-term, market-driven needs. An absence of institutional quality measures makes students’ choices
uninformed, making it difficult to enlist consumer demand in the battle to raise standards. Developing
countries are left with a formidable task of expanding their higher education systems and improving
quality, all within continuing budgetary constraints (World Bank, 2000, p.36).
R asian: Higher Education in Iran
There is a strong correlation between economic development and the spread of higher education and
the societal returns on higher education, including the spread of knowledge and culture (Fergany, 2000,
p.5). But, ineffective management and policies in higher education can also hinder development. Higher
education in Iran today suffers from an overall lack of quality. Much of this can be traced back to
ineffective management, increased enrollments, a shortage of technology, antiquated instructional
methods largely based on memorization, and misaligned incentives for teachers and students.
T oday, with the increased speed of information and telecommunication technology , many changes
have occurred in society. But, Iran's old higher education system doesn't have the capacity to meet current
needs. It faces numerous challenges and crises, and needs reform and transformation. This study will
examine Iran's higher education system, and how the lack of quality and effective management has
influenced it. It will recommend how to meet current challenges and build a better educational system.
H igher education in developing countries
P erhaps Iranians can learn from the challenges faced by neighboring countries. Schwartzman (2001)
asserts that, in spite of large differences in social structures, economic conditions, cultural and historical
backgrounds, higher education systems in most countries face similar challenges, some of which conflict.
more research capacity to enhance their countries’ presence in a world where science and
technology play an ever-growing role;
to combine elite with mass higher education, in order to provide meaningful and useful
information to millions who wish to learn and upgrade their credentials;
to provide lifelong education to a large public that seeks not only formal degrees, but to keep
up and readapt to a rapidly evolving labor market; and
N ONPARTISAN EDUCATION REVIEW / ESSAYS Vol. 5 , No . 3
to maintain and grow their universities as centers for culture and scholarship, providing their
societies with a space for the development and maintenance of critical knowledge,
independent thinking, social identity building, and values.