Afghanistan University Support & Workforce Development Program (2014-2019)

The Center for International Education (CIE) is completing five years of work with the higher education system in Afghanistan as the lead technical partner under FHI 360 on USAID’s third largest higher education project in the world - University Support and Workforce Development program (USWDP), a $92 million, five-year project. CIE has a $23 million sub-contract with FHI360. The project builds on the work of CIE in the two previous higher education projects in Afghanistan from 2006-2014.


The goal of USWDP has been to improve the academic quality and organizational performance of Afghanistan’s higher education system, enabling it to deliver a professional, capable workforce to meet the demands of the country’s changing needs. USWDP is working the Ministry of Higher Education and 11 public universities.


UMass has been directly responsible for initiating the development and implementation of higher education policies and system capabilities as well as partnering to establish 5 Associate Degrees and one Master’s degree.


Higher Education Policies and Systems

UMass has assisted the Ministry of Higher Education with the development and implementation of policies in Quality Assurance and Accreditation and University Autonomy. Support for Quality Assurance has included the development of quality assurance policies, strategies, and criteria as well as capacity to implement them. At the end of 2018, four public and two private universities have received full accreditation. Others are at various stages of the accreditation process.


UMass has also helped with the development of Financial Autonomy procedures and manuals, establishing technical committees at the target universities, training relevant staff on budgeting, proposal writing, cost estimation, and public financial management to enable universities to generate revenue from non-government sources. In addition to financial autonomy, UMass provided recommendations for administrative and academic autonomy to provide a basis for universities to gradually develop an appropriate level of institutional autonomy.


Establishing Market-Oriented Degree Programs

The USWDP project has strengthened existing or developed new degrees for a total of 31 degrees – 18 bachelor degrees, eight master degrees, and five associate degrees. UMass was responsible for developing six new degree programs.  


UMass partnered with Shaheed Rabani Education University (SREU) in 2015 to establish a Masters degree in Education Leadership and Management (MELM). UMass supported the MELM program by developing its curricula and program policies, providing teaching materials, and developing the capacity of its faculty through in-country and international study opportunities. The first cohort of eighteen students, including nine women, graduated in April 2018. The MELM program was officially handed over to SREU at that time.  The second cohort of students began in summer of 2018.


By creating partnerships between US community colleges and Afghan Universities, UMass facilitated the creation of five Associate Degree programs in Afghanistan. Associate Degrees are a new concept in Afghanistan which are intended to train skilled labor for the middle-level jobs, most of which are currently filled by foreign workers in Afghanistan. The five Associate degrees are:



The graduates of the IT and BMET programs have had a more than 90 percent employment rate soon after graduation, reflecting the need for these programs in Afghanistan’s economy.




CIE-UMass Project Management Team

The project is managed at UMass by a team of faculty, staff and graduate students.  The 2019 team is made up of Ian Barron (not pictured), David R. Evans and Shane Hammond as Principal Investigators with Joe Berger acting as Senior Technical Advisor. The home office team also includes staff members, Matt Glennon (lecturer), Barbara Gravin Wilbur and Beth Weinman (not pictured). The home office team supports the much larger USWDP team working in Afghanistan.


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