Tertiary and Higher Education

About Tertiary and Higher Education (THE)

The role and importance of tertiary and higher education in the process of national development have been acknowledged and emphasised globally. Therefore, in order to achieve sustainable socio-economic development in The Gambia, it is important to reaffirm the relationship between tertiary and higher education and the workforce and how these steers the development drives stipulated in Vision 2020, the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) and other national policy and strategy initiatives.


Globalisation has brought to the forefront such key issues as new knowledge and skills, modes of technologies, qualifications and knowledge application as imperatives that drive education and research, science and innovation.


  • Tertiary and Higher Education Directorate is one of the main directorates of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology. 


  • It serves as the technical wing of the Ministry providing the linkages between the Ministry and the Tertiary and Higher Education Institutions in The Gambia.


  • The Directorate in essence has policy over-sight responsibility over Tertiary and Higher Education Institutions.


  • Institutions that fall under the purview of the Ministry are expected to serve as the implementing agencies in the drive to attain the shared vision and mission of the Higher Education sector.


To play a central role in the transformation of The Gambia into a skills-based economy & knowledge society.


To establish a tertiary and higher education system of reputable (world-class) institutions and centres of excellence that will produce well-educated and skilled citizens with the requisite competencies to lead fulfilled lives and compete nationally and globally.


Functions of the Tertiary and Higher Education Directorate

1.      Coordinate the development and implementation of policies and programmes to ensure access, equity, quality and relevance in Tertiary and Higher Education.


2.      Facilitate the development and implementation of TVET and life-long learning.


3.      Enhance Quality Assurance system in Tertiary and Higher Education.


4.      Coordinate the evaluation and assessment of academic credentials (certificates and transcripts).


5.      Coordinate the development, review and implementation of relevant curricula in Tertiary and Higher Education Institutions.


6.      Participate/ organize workshops, conferences and seminars both within and outside the country.

University Education and Research and Development

University education in The Gambia covers degree-awarding institutions legally established as institutions of higher learning. Besides degree programmes (Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorates), these institutions may offer certificates, diplomas, advanced diplomas or their equivalents.


Prior to the establishment of the university extension programme, organised in 1997 in collaboration with St Mary’s University in Canada, Gambians sought university education overseas. It was not until 1999 that the first university, UTG, was founded. This public university has since reduced the heavy dependence on external universities for training.  while four private universities are now in operation, keen interest has been shown by potential proprietors to start new universities or run campuses affiliated to universities operating elsewhere. Access to online education is also rising, although this controversially calls to question the adequacy, relevance and quality of some of the courses. All of these issues have to be addressed through a well-coordinated management framework.


Research and Development in the higher education sector embraces all aspects of research, and involves partnerships and collaboration within and outside the country. Regrettably, in The Gambia, the depth and scope of R&D and its contribution to national development are not substantially sufficient, and, therefore, need to be augmented significantly for it to have a decisive impact on the economy. Lessons learnt from ‘high-income countries’ and the rising nations in Asia and Africa cogently point to the essentiality of inputting considerable levels of investments and dedicated service in R&D.

Professional Education and Training

Tertiary and higher educational institutions established to conduct professional education and training in various fields of study in The Gambia are principally the UTG, GC, MDI and GTTI. Other institutions include: GTMI, GTHI, CHN and RDI. Together, they offer long and short courses in teacher education, nursing and midwifery, public and environmental health, agriculture, tourism and hospitality, information and communication technology (ICT), management and rural development. 


A recently concluded tracer study on Gambian graduates indicates that there is a high employment rate (≈100%) associated with the professional programmes, as opposed to a high unemployment rate (14% - 23% in 2008 and 32% - 68% in 2010) for the TVET programmes. The study also suggests that a high proportion of those employed from the professional programmes are in the public sector/parastatals (46% - 100%), whereas a high proportion of TVET graduates are employed in the private sector/family businesses (52% - 82%).

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

In addition to what is provided above on TVET, it suffices to say that a well-defined system exists that caters for training in technical and vocational knowledge and skills from apprenticeship to managerial levels, as enshrined in The Gambia Skills Qualifications Framework (GSQF). The framework addresses TVET qualifications, which include programmes in certificates, diplomas and degrees or their equivalents. In spite of the merits associated with this framework, it is important to situate the GSQF within an overall National Qualifications Framework that runs across the entire education system from ECD to university education. The absence of an NQF, for instance, continues to debar TVET graduates from pursuing higher education at the UTG. Thus, there is a need to institute a well-managed, unified education system with clear-cut pathways for ‘continuing’ education and lifelong learning.

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