A number of reasons have been proposed for the poor quality of higher education systems in the Arab World, including the poor incentive structures of public higher education institutions. The expansion of private higher education has been hailed as an important part of improving education quality and labor market outcomes. However, it is not clear whether or to what extent the pedagogical and accountability practices of private higher education institutions differ from those of public institutions. This paper explores whether private provision improves the quality of higher education, as measured by pedagogy, accountability, and student perceptions of quality. In order to reduce the heterogeneity of the higher education institutions we examine in this study, we focus on commerce and information technology programs in Egypt and Jordan. We find that the processes pursued by higher education institutions do not consistently and systematically vary by the type of institution. Increasing the role of private higher education is unlikely to automatically improve educational processes or quality.
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