In Tanzania, higher education is defined as that proportion of tertiary education
that leads to an advanced diploma or degree. The last decade or so has seen a significant
expansion of higher education in Tanzania. Whilst up to the mid 1980s there were
only two universities and a handful of other specialist higher education colleges,
by 2005 there were a total 30 universities, the majority of these being private.
In addition, there were 15 additional public Institutions of Higher Education including
6 professional institutes, 2 institutes of technology, a wildlife college and a business
Enrolment in higher education:
Enrolment into higher education is still quite low. In a country of over 40 million
people, the gross enrolment ratio remains around 1%. Whilst the expansion of private
higher education enrolment has had a significant impact in boosting access, these
universities are relatively small and as of 2005, almost 90% of students were in
Public universities and other institutes of higher learning. The Private higher education
sector is, however, continually expanding and its proportion of intake can only go
Accurate statistics are not immediately available. However, figures from Unesco show
that sub-Saharan Africa, of which Tanzania is part, sends proportionately more of
its higher education students abroad than any other part of the world. On average,
5.6% of these students go abroad for their studies. That is 1 in 16 of all higher
education students. In 2005, Tanzania had just over 51,000 enrolled students within
its local universities and other institutions of higher learning.
The gender gap in higher education
Like many developing countries, there is a wide gender gap when it comes to higher
education. Whilst there are no real problems of access to primary education, the
trend towards fewer girls in education starts to appear at secondary school level
and accelerates markedly in institutions of higher learning. This problem was historically
quite pronounced but there has been significant improvement over the last 15 -20
years. Among adults, 1.1% of the male population have completed higher education.
The proportion among women is less than a fifth of that at 0.2%.
This historical skew in access is getting rapidly corrected. As of 2006, 32% of students
in universities and other institutions of higher learning were female, still inequitable
but a marked improvement from before. At a post-graduate level, the problem remains
more pronounced with only 21% and 19% of Masters and PhD students in public universities
being women. Interestingly, the proportion in private universities is higher though
still far off the expected 50%.
The overall enrolment in higher education in Tanzania is still far below that of
many countries in the world, even including countries with similar economic abilities
such as neighbouring Uganda or Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. The chart below
is demonstrative (hover to see larger image)