On the 25 April 2023, our online roundtable event titled ‘Coming Together for Equal Access to Higher Education: An International Exchange of Strategies, Experiences, and Mobilizations’ brought together student activists from diverse backgrounds and regions to discuss the crucial issue of equalising access to higher education. We were thrilled to have four distinguished student speakers from different parts of the world, all active and passionate about the right to education:
This report, jointly produced by Right to Education Initiative; La FAGE, Fédération des Associations Générales Etudiantes; and Global Students Forum, focuses on the right to higher education, questioning France’s compliance with its obligations regarding article 2.2 and article 13.2 (c) of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
On 24 April 2023, the Right to Education Initiative (RTE) and the Global Student Forum (GSF) brought together student activists from four different continents, namely: Africa, Latin America, Oceania, and Europe, to share their insights on mobilising for equal access to higher education in different contexts.
Higher education is part of the right to education, protected under international human rights law. This means that states have the obligation to protect respect and fulfil the right to higher education and that there are ways to hold them accountable for violations or deprivations of the right to higher education.
Delphine Dorsi, Director of Right to Education Initiative and Jamil Salmi, Global Tertiary Education Expert join Emma Sabzalieva, Head of Research and Foresight (UNESCO IESALC) to talk about inclusion policies and initiatives around the world and how they connect to the right to higher education.
Higher education is too often dissociated from the right to education. In many countries tuition fees are on the rise, and only the privileged have access to, or succeed in completing, higher education, making it difficult to argue that there is an actual right to higher education to be enforced. However, international human rights law is clear: the right to education includes the obligation of states to ensure that higher education is made accessible to all based on capacity.
The number of forcibly displaced persons is on the rise worldwide, and they are displaced for increasingly protracted periods. Access to education for refugee children and youth remains a major concern, including at the higher education level. While data on refugee access to higher education remain scarce and incomplete, it is estimated that only 3 per cent of refugees were enrolled in higher education in 2021. This figure stands in contrast to a global gross enrolment ratio (GER)1 in higher education of 38 per cent worldwide in 2018.
In 1995, the parents of an Indian pupil brought a case against University of Natal because her application to medical school was rejected despite the satisfactory results she obtained in her qualifying examinations. They claimed that the admission process was discriminatory because it did not consider all the applications equally, but set higher admission standards for Indian students and lower ones for African students.
The UNESCO World Higher Education Conference (WHEC 20222) that took place in Barcelona, Spain, from 18-20 May was a great and grandiose event that gathered around 1,500 in person participants - and many more online - around 120 roundtable sessions, 86 ‘HED’ talks and five youth-led activities.