IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Higher education and the public good in Africa

09 November 2017, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

Women in Africa pursing higher education. Source: Direct Relief via Flickr (CC BY NC-ND 2.0)

Event Information

Open to



Centre for Education and International Development (CEID)


Jeffery Hall
UCL Institute of Education (IOE)
20 Bedford Way
United Kingdom

Higher education has considerable potential for benefiting all segments of society, as evidenced by the renewal of interest in the Sustainable Development Goals. However, the relevance of higher education for the public good is contested and amenable to multiple interpretations.

On the one hand, there are conceptions emerging from economics, defined as goods that are non-rivalrous and non-excludable, while on the other, there are more collectivist conceptions of public good in the singular, or 'common good', requiring deliberation and consensus building.

This seminar hosted by the Centre for Education and International Development (CEID) focuses on two principal questions: first, is there a distinctively African notion of the public good in higher education? Second, how can the public good impact of higher education be measured?

This seminar draws on the early phases of a three-year multi-country research study, Higher Education, Inequality and the Public Good in four African countries: South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana, involving research collaboration amongst some key scholars of higher education in Africa. The research aims to advance understanding about how different constituencies - students, staff, governance bodies, employers, government, and civil society - understand higher education and the public good in the four African countries.

The project will draw on this analysis to develop an indicator of higher education and the public good, which will be offered to key stakeholder for critical review in cross-country discussion.

About the speakers

Professors Elaine Unterhalter and Moses Oketch are the directors of CEID at the UCL Institute of Education (IOE).

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Image: Direct Relief via Flickr (CC BY NC-ND 2.0)