ADB Supports Mongolia's Push for More Relevant Higher Education

News Release | 29 July 2011

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $20 million equivalent loan to help Mongolia improve the quality of its higher education system and increase enrollment by youth from poor, remote communities.

The ADB Board of Directors yesterday approved the financing for the Higher Education Reform Project. Along with strengthening the relevance of existing higher education programs, it will also address issues such as governance and management, financing, and access.

"The ultimate goal is to boost the number of graduates who have the skills to match Mongolia's changing economic needs, and who can bring international standards to its labor markets," said Robert Schoellhammer, Country Director of ADB Mongolia Resident Mission.

Mongolia has over 100 higher education institutions but only about 40% of graduates manage to find employment. In response, the Government of Mongolia has drawn up a plan to rationalize higher education which includes reducing the large number of public universities from 42 to 16, and improving teaching and programs.

The project will aid the government's plan by funding research facilities, staff training, e-learning centers and testing centers. It will aim to strengthen management capacity at universities to improve accountability and transparency, and will support new public-private partnerships and twinning arrangements with industry and foreign institutions to develop labor market-ready graduates.

It will also seek to tackle current imbalances in the system where few students from poor families in remote areas take higher education courses, and boys - despite being strongly outnumbered by girls - get the bulk of jobs on offer after graduation.

"Assistance will be given to increase state support mechanisms for students who are poor or living in distant areas, and for policies that can improve gender balance," said Eisuke Tajima, Education Specialist in ADB's East Asia Department. "As part of this initiative four rural institutions will be chosen to pilot distance learning courses to reach out to more students."

ADB's loan from its concessional Asian Development Fund has a 32-year term and will fund 90% of the project cost with the government providing an additional $2.2 million. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science will manage the project which is due for completion by December 2016.