Harvard Yard Winter Harvard Yard/Wikimedia Commons

The Ivy Clique

The relationships that are formed at elite universities are among the most influential in the world. As long as low-income countries are excluded from these social circles, they will remain unable to attract the resources they need to improve their international status and enhance their contribution to the global economy.

PARIS – Education is undoubtedly a critical driver of economic growth and social mobility. But efforts to expand access to education have typically focused on the primary level, while neglecting tertiary schooling. And initiatives that have emphasized post-secondary learning have placed relatively little emphasis on educational quality. This has to change.

The influence of higher education on social mobility is particularly pronounced in low-income countries, where the scarcity of skilled human capital gives tertiary-educated workers a significant wage premium. The problem is that many of these countries lack high-quality institutions of higher education, leaving even university graduates at a disadvantage within an increasingly interconnected global economy.

This is where study abroad programs can help. Sending students to high-quality foreign institutions can help to advance a country’s international integration, including into global knowledge networks, as it has for many countries in Asia and the Middle East.

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