The inclusion of tertiary education (TE) in the Sustainable Development Goals is recognition of the potential role of post-compulsory education in global development. But what evidence exists of the role that tertiary education plays?

The review covers research published between 2010 and February 2020.  

A conceptual framework was developed to illustrate the ways in which the relationship between TE and development is enacted. This framework sets out four core functions of TE contributing to nine development outcomes.The evidence reviewed considered whether TE may contribute to positive development outcomes, misaligned processes which may not meet the intended outcomes or may have mixed effects.

By learning more about the relationship of TE and development, there is an opportunity for the education community to strengthen support for the SDGs.


Colleen Howell, Elaine Unterhalter and Moses Oketch, Centre for Education and International Development (CEID), UCL, Institute of Education

Citation: Howell, C., Unterhalter, E., & Oketch, M. (2022). The role of tertiary education in development: A rigorous review of the evidence. British Council. Available online at