The World Bank (WB) has decided to allocate a loan worth $33 million to Azerbaijan for higher education.
The bank said the development of a project in this field has already begun.
"Evaluation of the project should be completed by November 21, 2014, and the Bank's Board of Executive Directors is expected to discuss it on February 19, 2015. The WB is ready to finance $33 million for the project through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)," the bank said.
The lender is expected to provide another $7.5 million that will increase the project budget up to $40.5 million.
The overarching goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of the higher education system and its institutions to provide high quality and relevant education to its graduates.
The project includes creation of a higher education management and information system and applying of the Quality Assurance agency for an Associate membership of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA).
It is also planned to develop and implement a development strategy with clear missions and targets for universities and to utilize a standardized approach to trace some cross-institutional or program comparison.
The government will develop some funding schemes to increase access to higher education among disadvantaged students (e.g., needs-based scholarships, student loans).
The WB project will cross the EU-funded twinning program to be approved by the end of 2014 and commence in early 2015.
The higher education system in Azerbaijan will be financed at an adequate level through an appropriate mix of public and private funds, in which public funding is utilized, to the extent possible, as a policy instrument to support the Ministry's strategic and policy objectives, including enhancing equity, improving quality, and enhancing efficiency.
The Education Ministry will develop and implement a comprehensive short-term and medium-term higher education financing reform strategy.
The reform strategy will address several elements, including instruments of public funding for higher education institutions, financial autonomy and accountability of higher education institutions and student funding and support.
Azerbaijan has been a member of the WB since 1992. Total liabilities of the bank to the country have amounted to over $3 billion on 54 projects during this period. About $1.7 billion was allocated to the implementation of the road-transport projects.