Higher Education Finance and Accessibility: Tuition Fees and Student Loans in Sub Saharan Africa

Higher Education Finance and Accessibility: Tuition Fees and Student Loans in Sub Saharan Africa,D. Bruce Johnstone

Higher Education Finance and Accessibility: Tuition Fees and Student Loans in Sub Saharan Africa   (Citations: 14)
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Higher education at the beginning of the 21st century has never been in greater demand, both from individual students and their families for the occupational and social status and greater earnings it is presumed to convey, as well as from governments for the public benefits it is presumed to bring to the social, cultural, political and economic well- being of countries. Nowhere is this demand more compelling, but with indicators of success more elusive, than in the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, beset with fragile economies and democracies and struggling to maintain higher educational quality amid conditions of financial austerity and a relentlessly increasing tide of student demand. The fundamental financial problems faced by institutions of higher education are worldwide and stem from two nearly universal forces. The first of these is the high and increasing unit, or per-student, cost of higher education. This can be attributed to an historically-entrenched, tertiary education production function that is both capital and labor intensive and that has proven throughout the world to be especially resistant to labor -saving technology.1 The second force greatly exacerbating the financial problems of tertiary educational institutions and ministries in many countries is the pressure for increasing enrollments, particularly where high birth rates are coupled with rapidly increasing proportions of youth finishing secondary school with legitimate aspirations for some tertiary education. And again, nowhere in the world are these exacerbating, or magnifying, conditions more prevalent than in Sub-Saharan Africa. Tertiary education in most countries, at least in the last century, has been largely dependent on governments, or taxpayers, for the revenue to meet these high and rising costs. However, the source of taxation in the countries of Sub Saharan Africa for much of the last century depended heavily on exports and imports, state-owned monopolies, and multinational enterprises, and the worsening terms of trade and the privatization of state- owned enterprises toward the end of the century forced governments to turn to much more problematic sources of taxation such as individual incomes, retail sales, and property that are more expensive to collect and easier to evade. International lending agencies have made dependence on deficit financing and the printing of money a less * D. Bruce Johnstone is University Professor of Higher and Comparative Education and former chancellor
Published in 2004.
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