How USAID’s Higher Education Programming Has Evolved
Higher education (HE) programming has been a cornerstone of USAID’s development portfolio since its establishment in 1961. A recent retrospective prepared by interns in the Office of Education provides an in-depth look at the history of the Agency’s HE programming. Higher Education: A Retrospective takes the reader through the Agency’s HE engagement decade by decade from the 1960s to 2000s.
Want more history on USAID's engagement in higher education?Read this blog
Here are three historical trends that surfaced in the retrospective:
Three Ways USAID HE Programming Has Evolved
1. USAID historically supported scholarship programs that brought undergraduate and graduate students from around the world to the U.S. for long-term study. However, as local institutional capacity has improved, the Agency has moved from solely using this model to also providing scholarship support for students to obtain a quality, American-style education in their own country or neighboring countries, often with short-term study opportunities in the U.S. For example, in Kosovo, through the Transformational Leadership Program - Scholarships and Partnerships, USAID supported in-country courses to prepare undergraduate students for higher education opportunities in the United States. Under the same program, USAID also supported a 14-week public service certificate program for government employees. This was a partnership between TLP and the Rochester Institute of Technology-Kosovo (RIT-Kosovo).
2. Relationships between higher education institutions are also evolving. The one-to-one, or “twinning,” partnerships are expanding to networks and consortia of institutions. By bringing different institutions and experiences together, this model results in strong links between faculty and students in the U.S. and partner countries.
As local institutional capacity improves, these HE institutions become catalysts of locally-owned and led development. This allows programming to shift so that local institutions become the lead institution and the U.S. partner plays a more supportive role.
3. The Agency-wide focus on Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) offers more flexibility for HE programming to adapt to local needs. Take for example the Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development (STRIDE) program in the Philippines. Although the program initially focused on scholarship, research capacity building and curriculum support at initiation, the success of a small grant program, demand from unexpected higher education institutions, and other research interventions allowed a later phase of the activity to focus on innovation ecosystem support and to move away from scholarships.
USAID is committed to continuing to build on its past HE investments by learning and sharing evidence on what is and isn’t working across the Agency’s portfolio. This is why USAID is currently developing an Agency-wide learning agenda to help inform our HE programming.
To learn more about Higher Education engagement through the years, read the full retrospective.