Historically, higher education has often been inaccessible to groups such as women, ethnic and racial minorities, the disabled and the poor. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights calls for accessible higher education, stating that it is necessary for the “full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity.” The spirit of the covenant underlies the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which recognize that access to higher education is vital to lifelong learning. SDG 4 includes access to higher education in its 3rd target: “By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.” This target emphasizes that higher education must be globally accessible to all and of high quality. Increased access to higher education enables people to maximize their potential and further universal sustainable development. As the providers of higher education, universities can directly contribute to the realization of SGD 4 and its targets.

Higher education enables individuals to expand their knowledge and skills, clearly express their thoughts both orally and in writing, grasp abstract concepts and theories, and increase their understanding of the world and their community. It has also been shown to improve an individual's quality of life; studies show that compared to high school graduates, college graduates have longer life spans, better access to health care, better dietary and health practices, greater economic stability and security, more stable employment and greater job satisfaction, less dependency on government assistance, greater understanding of government, increased community service and leadership, more self-confidence, and less criminal activity and incarceration. In addition, college graduates have higher rates of access to the internet, more time to devote to leisure and artistic activities, and higher voting rates.


Please review our SDG Hubs page and in particular the information related to our Hub for Goal 4: Quality Education.