Education, Government and Finance Leaders Meet for International Think-Tank on Student Financing of Higher Education in Developing Countries

Sep 21, 2011, 17:40 ET from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

CHICAGO, LOS ANGELES and WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A diverse group of prominent global finance, government and higher education professionals met for a high-level think tank at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy on August 8-12, with the goal of developing viable models for student financing of higher education in developing countries.  Organized by The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, one of the nation's leading non-profit graduate schools focused exclusively on psychology and related behavioral sciences, with the generous support of the Rockefeller Foundation and assistance of the McCall MacBain Foundation, the invitation-only event brought professionals from every continent to tackle the global challenge of access to higher education in developing parts of the world.


"Higher education is fast becoming an imperative for individuals--and countries--to thrive and compete in an increasingly interconnected global economy," said Dr. Orlando Taylor, president of the Washington, D.C. Campus of The Chicago School and co-organizer of the think-tank with Dr. Wayne Patterson, professor at Howard University.  "Yet as the necessity for higher education has grown, so too has the expense of providing access to a high quality education."

Participants in the think-tank included the President of the European Access Network; former Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris; Chief of the Section for Reform, Innovation and Quality Assurance of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Lead Program Analyst in the Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade section (EGAT) at USAID; university presidents; and leading professors, deans and economic and education experts from Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, Indonesia, New Zealand, Senegal, Japan, Canada and the United States.  

Defining the Problem
Without enough seats available in public universities and few, if any, student loan programs available to finance private higher education, developing countries simply cannot develop a skilled and competitive workforce. Moreover, they tend to experience brain drain at higher levels. A paper prepared by Dr. Taylor and Dr. Teresa Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, puts the problem in context in relation to graduate education. Taylor and Sullivan argue that while increasing access to undergraduate education is a critical first step, underdevelopment of a country's "best and brightest" at the most advanced level of higher education virtually ensures a developing country's continued dependence on countries with stronger economies.

A Model Solution
Recognizing that student financing must include public and/or private sector banks that are required to cover the cost of capital outlay and produce a financial return on funds invested, the think-tank focused on a framework to encourage banks to engage in student financing in countries where the investment would otherwise be considered too risky. The group worked from a number of models set forth in a paper presented by Ronald Perkinson, former president of the Sampoerna Foundation in Indonesia and former principal education specialist at IFC/World Bank Group, in which foundations, governments and foreign governments, and universities would partner with banks to reduce the risk.

"The development and execution of well-designed education aid and financing programs is crucial to promoting social equity and delivering improved social and economic returns in the world's lower and middle income economies," said Perkinson. "Our experience suggests that better underwriting, structuring and securitization of student finance facilities through risk-sharing arrangements have led to cautious but growing interest by banks to participate in student lending initiatives in developing countries."

Next Steps|
Think-tank participants are finishing a proposal to be submitted to an interested consortium that might include one or more developing countries who will pilot the program, foundations, a bank or banks, public and/or private educational institutions, and other governmental sources. The group aspires to begin the pilot program within a year.

"The enormity of the challenge in financing higher education across the globe will be matched only by the crisis for failing to do so," said Dr. Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza, deputy vice chancellor of Makerere University in Uganda. "Bringing together the insight of educators, financial experts, and foundations from around the world and implementing a pilot for a new model of financing is an important step in meeting this global imperative."

Click here to see conference abstracts and a full list of conference participants.

About The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Founded in 1979, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP) is the nation's leading nonprofit graduate school dedicated exclusively to the applications of psychology and related behavioral sciences. The school is an active member of the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology, which has recognized TCSPP for its distinguished service and outstanding contributions to cultural diversity and advocacy. The school's community service initiatives have resulted in four consecutive years of recognition on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, including the additional "With Distinction" honor in 2010 and 2011.  The school's Chicago Campus was one of 115 colleges and universities nationally to receive the 2010 Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, for its significant commitment to and demonstration of community engagement. Campuses are located in Chicago; in Los Angeles, Westwood, and Irvine, California; and the newest campus in Washington, D.C. Doctoral psychology programs and masters psychology programs are offered on-ground and in an online-blended format.

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Lynne Baker

SOURCE The Chicago School of Professional Psychology