ERF is currently engaged in carrying out a number of programs that address questions where knowledge gaps about the Arab countries, Iran and Turkey are apparent.
There is a broad perception supported by ample evidence that the quality of higher education in the Arab countries is relatively low. None of the universities in the region rank among the best 500 universities in the world according to Times Higher Education World University Rankings. A large fraction of the graduates from higher education are unemployed or underemployed, suggesting a mismatch between the skills they acquire and labor market demand. And available data indicate that publication by faculty in internationally refereed journals is slim, let alone their contribution to innovation and new patents. Not surprisingly, higher education in the Arab World, including Egypt, does not seem to function as an effective mechanism for upward social mobility and lifting the poor and marginalized out of poverty. The question is what can be done to change this unhappy outcome?
This research program attempts to explore the relationship between education outcomes and the nature of governance (incentives) in higher education institutions in three countries: Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia. Within each of the three countries, the analysis of incentives is carried out through a survey that targets around 2000 individuals per country from two specific educational fields who have graduated 5-15 years ago and who are currently working and interviews about their pre-enrollment characteristics, the university experience, and their labor market trajectory after graduation. These people will be selected from the samples of several rounds of national Labor Force Surveys in three countries. These national surveys typically have questions about educational specialization and current labor market status, allowing us to draw the necessary samples. The surveys of these graduates will be supplemented with qualitative research looking at rules and regulations governing higher education and interviews of key officials and university heads at specific institutions.