A Program Framework for Higher Education
USAID Higher Education Program Framework
Since 1961, USAID’s higher education (HE) portfolio has continued to evolve and expand across regions, sectors, and activities. However, there is one element that is common across the portfolio—USAID’s commitment to the development of self-reliance. To provide the vision, framing, and key outcomes for its broad and diverse HE programming, regardless of the sector or region, USAID has developed the Higher Education Program Framework. The framework is one of several new HE resources being released by the Center for Education to inform USAID higher education program design, implementation, and strategic planning.
The HE program framework is built around three components. At the core of the framework is the HE system. The outer layer of the framework shows the outcomes of USAID’s HE programming; and the layer in-between outlines the approach the Agency uses to achieve these outcomes.
Let’s examine each of these components.
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3 Components of the Program Framework
The HE system is at the core of USAID’s Higher Education Program Framework. The HE system is made up of both policies and norms, as well as the organizations and individuals that deliver or consume higher education. The system has three primary functions or pathways for creating impact, as depicted by the three intersecting circles. These are to:
- Provide quality and relevant education and workforce training
- Engage and strengthen networks and communication
- Advance knowledge and research
Although they might not invest in all three functions at the same time, higher education institutions (HEIs) and their partners play a key role in each of these functions.
The overarching outcome of all of USAID’s programming, including in HE is to advance a country’s journey to self-reliance. To achieve this vision through its HE programming, three key outcomes USAID focuses on are:
- Developing the capacity of individuals and HEIs so that they can improve their performance.
- Strengthening partnerships and transnational relationships that can sustain performance improvement.
- Promoting higher education as a central actor in developing local solutions to local problems. The potential of HEIs to serve as central actors in crisis response and locally-led development has been tested in 2020 as these institutions have had to respond to the global pandemic.
A complementary resource alongside the HE program framework is the HE COVID Response Landscape Map. In addition to contributing to the growing knowledge base around COVID-19’s impacts on HE and the role HEIs played in the local response, this analysis provides important insights into opportunities for improvement in crisis response, development of best practices, and potential areas of research for the Agency-side HE Learning Agenda.
Higher Education’s Response to COVID-19: A Landscape MapRead Now
USAID is guided by four principles in its engagement with HEIs.
- Equity and inclusion
- Evidence and data
- Local ownership
By laying out these three components, the USAID Higher Education Program Framework clearly articulates USAID’s common, sector-inclusive understanding of a HE system, commitment to key HE outcomes, and ways in which it engages with HEIs to achieve these outcomes.