The sector of higher education in Jordan plays a key role in the process of comprehensive development at various levels and areas. During the last two decades, the sector of higher education in Jordan witnessed a prominent development as well as progress evidenced by the increasing number of institutions of higher education, enrolled students, faculty members, administrative and academic members, and size of expenditures in this significant sector. In spite of the limited financial resources in the kingdom, higher education lies within the priorities of the country as of the role it plays in promoting the economic, social and knowledge level of the Jordanian citizen.
The laws that govern the higher education system and public and private universities were revised and new laws were issued in 2009. These are the ''Law of Higher Education No. (23)” and "The Jordanian Universities Law No. (20)”. Due to these laws, Jordanian universities have become more independent in managing the administrative as well as financial matters, and by virtue of the new laws, the following units were created within the ministry's organizational structure:
There are two types of higher education institutions (HEIs) in Jordan: public and fully private. A private university is established through a decision by the Council of Higher Education, based on an application by the owner, and in accordance with the conditions and guarantees prescribed in the regulations. It is a legal entity that is financially and administratively independent. As such, it may carry out all legal transactions, such as concluding contracts, accepting aids, donations, grants and wills, and has the right of litigation.
Private universities in Jordan have been operational for over quarter of a century, and now accommodate about one-fourth of the student population in the country. Facilities of the private universities must meet the requirements for institutional accreditation, and their programs, curricula, and study plans must comply with the prevailing regulations enforced by the Higher Education Accreditation Commission (HEAC). Consequently, these universities undergo regular accreditation and audit visits by committees set by HEAC as well as staff of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in order to obtain their accreditation. Number of teaching staff and number of students that may be admitted in each program are controlled by the relevant authorities, and fines are imposed for any violation.
The Council of Higher Education (COHE) assumes the responsibility of establishing the policy of higher education, approving the establishment of institutions of higher education, supervising the private universities, distributing government subsidies and additional fees on public universities, and formulating the principles to students' admission. The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR) is responsible for implementing the higher education policy, coordination among HEIs, conducting agreements with other countries, recognition of universities and degrees from other countries, assisting the Council of Higher Education and providing it with necessary studies. The Higher Education Accreditation Commission (HEAC) aims to advance quality and equity in higher education in Jordan whether in assessment, ranking, or conducting valid, reliable, and unbiased testing services. It also strives to improve the status of higher education in the Kingdom; assuring its quality; motivating higher education institutions to open up to and interact with universities, scientific research institutions, and international accreditation and quality control commissions; and developing higher education by employing internationally-comparable standards. The Scientific Research Support Fund aims at encouraging and supporting the scientific research in the kingdom.
The National Strategy for Higher Education in Jordan for the years 2014-2018 has number of components, including: university governance and management, admission policies, finance, accreditation and quality assurance, scientific research and graduate studies, university environment, academic programs, human resources, and technical education.
The general objectives of higher education include preparation of qualified human resources in various fields of knowledge to meet the needs of the community, patronizing the democratic approach and enhancing it to ensure the academic freedom, the right of expression, and respect for others' opinions, teamwork, accountability and following the scientific critical thinking, providing an academic, research, psychological and social supportive environment appropriate for innovation, excellence and talents burnishing, contributing to the development of knowledge, developing knowledge and skills of students, encouraging, supporting and upgrading the scientific research especially the applied scientific research aims at community service and development, creating a coherent institutional link between the public and private sectors.
Within the National Strategy for Higher Education in Jordan for the years 2014-2018, dimension of internationalisation has been prioritised highly on the scale of competitiveness as well as innovation. This strategy outlined the optimal planning for investment of all constituents and components of the higher education system to create internationalisation in various layers, within the following strategic components: governance and university management, accreditation and quality assurance, scientific research, and academic programs. Different approaches and measures among universities are tailored based on the extent to which international dimension is targeted by universities top management, and within what layers.
The higher education Law is currently undergoing an amendment. Meetings with heads of private and public universities and concerned officials of the trade unions are held to solicit their views and come out with common understanding. Circulars are also being sent to universities and students’ councils at the universities for discussion and ask them to write their opinions regarding this matter. Committees were formed to review all ideas and opinions. The Council of Higher Education will look into all available information and opinions to take the necessary action to proceed with the Law according to the legislative process.
2015: National Strategic plan for 2014-2018 was developed (available in Arabic) during 2015. Draft laws for higher education and Jordanian universities are being discussed for possible approval. A trend towards techn ical education is discussed. As a result, there is an article in the draft law for establishing a new unit for technical education, and the restructuring of the Balqa Applied University to separate the academic and professional programs.
2014: Implementation of capital projects regarding developing technical and vocational higher education.
Recognition of qualifications and internationalization of higher education in the Euro-Mediterranean Region (RECONOW) (http://www.reconow.eu/en/index.aspx):
The aim of RECONOW is to favor and to increase the quality of vertical and horizontal student mobility within Middle East and European higher education systems. The project is related to recognition procedures and practices at national and institutional levels.
A bottom-up Approach for Opening up Education in South-Mediterranean Countries (OpenMEd) (http://openmedproject.eu/):
The OpenMEd project aims to foster the adoption of strategies and channels that embrace the principles of openness and reusability within the context of South-Mediterranean higher educational institutes.
Enhancing Quality Assurance Management in Jordanian Universities (EQuAM):
The wider objective of EQuAM is to improve management of quality assurance and enhance the capacity of quality assurance bureaus in universities in Jordan, and aims at assisting the creation of a model to assess the quality of the Jordanian higher education system.
Modernization Of Teaching Methodologies In Higher Education: EU Experience For Jordan And Palestinian Territory (METHODS) (http://methods.ju.edu.jo):
The aim of METHODS project is to raise the competencies of individual learners to become active members of the knowledge society by enhancing the learning process of students acquiring 21st Century competencies to become autonomous and active learners.
Tuning Middle East and North Africa (http://tuningmeda.org/):
Tuning MEDA project is aimed at the implementation of the Bologna tools in Southern Neighbouring Area universities through building of a framework of comparable, compatible and transparent programmes of studies. In order to achieve this, four specific objectives have been identified to: Apply the Tuning methodology in universities of SNA in four subject areas: Law and Good Governance including Human Rights; Healthcare and Nursing; Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture; and Tourism, develop Tuning Reference Points in four subject areas, develop, implement, monitor and improve degree programmes for the first cycle programmes and promote regional and international cooperation between SNA and EU universities.
Towards a University Enterprise Alliance in Jordan (http://tej-jo.eu/):
TEJ tends to build relations between universities and their socio-economic environment.
Towards a National Qualification Framework-Jordan (NQF-J):
The wider objective of the project is to support the structural reform of the higher education system in Jordan, develop a qualifications framework for higher education in line with national priorities, and implement at different institutional levels. NQF-J shall provide a QF for higher education for implementation at institutional level and, importantly, set up the basis for a comprehensive NQF, and thus endeavours to establish an NQF model that identifies the generic expectations of all levels of higher educational programmes.
Promotion of Innovation Culture in the Higher Education in Jordan (INVENT) (http://invent.just.edu.jo/Pages/default.aspx):
The project aims at the establishment of four Centers for Transfer of Innovation (CTIs) in Jordan, development of economic thinking and interest to use innovation by entrepreneurs and business community, promotion of the innovation importance among the university researchers and the local businesses, and provision of the chance to the researchers to apply their research results in local industries.