Aid and higher education in Ethiopia: Foreign donor‘s influence in the higher education system with emphasis on quality


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Høgskolen i Oslo. Avdeling for lærerutdanning og internasjonale studier

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Master i flerkulturell og internasjonal utdanning


This research examines the relationship between the Ethiopian Government and the foreign donors in connection with the higher education system in Ethiopia. The quality factor is singled out and analysed. As an area lacking researched, this relationship is vital in understanding of the cooperation between the stakeholders. The influence that foreign donors have in the higher education sector is the main area of attention of this thesis, with special interest put on how these actors see and use the term quality in their work. In order to shed light on this the research uses qualitative methods consisting of semi-structured interviews with central persons within the foreign donors, Government apparatus, and in the higher education sector in Ethiopia. What this research found was that the foreign donors have an influential position within the higher education sector in Ethiopia, not mainly financially but through redirecting funding away from the sector and with few donors supporting central institutions. In addition there is little sign of equal partnerships, and the use of foreign ‗experts‘ and expatriate staff are deepening dependency. The understanding of quality is ambiguous both between the Government of Ethiopia and the foreign donors and within those two camps as well. What is important to point out is that quality is seldom used in projects, although that‘s where their focus lies, but has instead been replaced by the term capacity. However, my research shows that too little research is conducted on the status of the Ethiopian higher education sector, of the work that the foreign donors perform in that sector, and of the relationship between the different stakeholders that are currently operating in the sector. The consequence of this is foreign donors that is having un-proportionally loud voices in the higher education sector and projects that do not target the right problems due to lack of research. Furthermore the projects do not include Ethiopian staff and professionals in an including manner, which lowers the status of both the Ethiopian professional and the status of the higher education system. Lastly, the quality aspect is surrounded with questions about everything from its definition to how one should work with increasing the quality in a higher education system that is struggling with spiking enrolment rates.


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