The higher education trap

Morocco’s universities are providing too many graduates for too few jobs, says Martin Rose

The World Today Published 12 February 2018 Updated 18 November 2020 4 minute READ

Martin Rose

Visiting Fellow, Prince Waleed bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge

Expansion of opportunity in higher education is a good thing, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple, and North Africa provides a chastening example of why: a lot of money is spent on education, universities are proliferating and student numbers ballooning. But graduate unemployment is rising fast.

Every country in North Africa offers shocking figures, but as The Economist noted of Egypt in 2016: ‘The more time you spend in school, the less chance you have of finding a job.’ It is this perverse truth that undermines the explosive growth of higher education in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The unemployed graduate has been very visible in the Arab Spring, in the riots that swept Tunisia in January, in the Hirak protest movement in Morocco’s Rif region and in ‘graduate recruitment’ to the ranks of the Islamic State jihadist group.

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