Full Length Research Paper

A Critical Perspective to Higher Education in the 21st Century Tunisia: The Problems of the Present and the Challenges of the Future

Taher Ben Khalifa

Article Number - 65E1CD0A61D20  | Vol. 1(1), pp. 1-13, March 2024  | 
 Received: 13 December 2023 |  Accepted: 24 January 2024  |   Published: 1 March 2024

Copyright © 2024 Author(s) retain the copyright of this article.
This article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0.


The impact of the gap between education and economy on the dynamic progress of society is frequently searched. In Tunisia, the increase of unemployment among graduates is a logical reason to question the match between our education and economy. To study this question, a theoretical connection between theory of social change, theory of economic change, theory of educational innovation, and theory of matching is established. The concepts and ideas that form these theories are analyzed and discussed in the conceptual analysis section. Then, they wereapplied for the analysis of the changes occurring in the three contexts in the section devoted to data analysis and discussion using a pure qualitative method. First, the changes occurring in the social, economic, and educational contexts are analyzed. Second, the findings of the analysis are discussed. The results of the study showed that society, economy, and education witnessed many changes. The examination of the match between these changes proved that higher education reforms did not succeed to fit with the needs of both society and economy. This mismatch is the outcome of a gap between the theorizing for reform and the practice of it, a problem of orientedness, a limited ability to build creativity, a limited ability to predict, a problem of logic in specialty creation, and a temporal disconnection between past, present, and future. Finally, the paper recommends that the success of educational reforms to fit with social and economic changes entails the reduction of the gap between theory of reform and its practice, making reform context-dependent, and making reform creativity-oriented. Therefore, though valuable these recommendations are, a quantitative study of the topic could be another important axe to investigate in a future research.


Keywords: Tunisia, Higher education, Society, Economy, Mismatch.




African Development Bank and OECD. (2003). Tunisia. African Economic Outlook, 309-320.

Akkari, A. (2005). The Tunisian Educational Reform: From Quantity to Quality and the Need for Monitoring and Assessment. Prospects, 35(1), 59-74.

Azhar, S. A. & Zandi, M. A. (2018). The Gap between Educational System and Job Market in International Business Law: A Model of Specialization for Solving the Problem. International Journal of Vocational Education and Training Research, 3(6), 51-60.

Ayadi, M. & Mattoussi, W. (2014). Scoping of the Tunisian Economy. WIDER Working Paper 2014/074. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER.

Boateng, K. (2002). Higher Education and the Labour: A logical Framework for Policy Makers in Africa’s Education Sector. Economic and Social Policy Division. Addis Ababa: Economic Commission for Africa.

Boukthir, M., Baklouti, A. Ouederni, A. & Mlaoueh, A. (2017). Overview of the Higher Education System: Tunisia. Publication of the European Commission.

Breisinger, C. & Diao, X. (2008). Economic Transformation in Theory and Practice:  What are the Messages for Africa? ReSAKSS Working Paper, No. 10, 1-50.

Carson, J. (2007). A Problem with Problem Solving: Teaching Thinking without Teaching Knowledge. The Mathematics Educator, 17(2), 714.

Chemingui, M. A. & Dessus, S. (1999). The Liberalization of the Tunisian Agriculture and the European Union: A perspective Analysis. OECD Development Centre Technical Paper 144.

Corominas, E., Saurina, C. & Villar, E. (2010). The Match between University Education and Graduate Labour Market Outcomes (Education-Job Match): An Analysis of Three Graduate Cohorts in Catalonia. (Shouthgate, C. Trans.). Catalnuya: Universitari de Catalnuya.     

Diallo-Conde, K. & Diomande, K. M. (1998). Tunisia - Economic And Financial Reforms Strengthening Programme (PRREF) - Completion Report. African Development Bank.

Dopfer, K. & Potts, J. (2008). The General Theory of Economic Evolution. London: Routledge.

Dopfer, K. & Potts, J. (2009). On the Theory of Economic Evolution. Evolutionary and Institutional Economics Review, 6(1), 23-44.

Ferguson, R., Barzilai, S., Ben-Zvi, D., Chinn, C. A., Herodotou, C., Hod, Y., Kali, Y., Kukulska-Hulme, A., Kupermintz, H., McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., Sagy, O., Scanlon, E., Sharples, M., Weller, M., & Whitelock, D. (2017). Innovating Pedagogy: Exploring new Forms of Teaching, Learning and Assessment, to Guide Educators and Policy Makers. Milton Keynes: The  Open University, UK.

Gale, D. & Shapley, L. S. (1962). College Admissions and the Stability of Marriage. Mathematical Association of America, 69(1), 9-15.

Goatley, V. J. & Johnston, P. (2013). Innovation, Research, and Policy: Evolutions in Classroom Teaching. Language Arts, 91(2), 94-104,

Haferkamp, H. & Smelser, N. J. (Eds.). (1992). Social Change and Modernity. Berkley: University of California.

Helly, D. (2014). Tunisia Country Report: Preparatory Action Culture in European External Relations.

Jbili, A. & Enders, K. (1996). The Association Agreement between Tunisia and the European Union. Finance & Development, pp. 18-20.

Kollmorgen, R. (2010). Transformation Theory and Socio-economic Change in Central and Eastern Europe: A Conceptual Framework. Employment and Economy in Central and Eastern Europe (EMECON), 1, 1–17.

Korpi, T & Tahlin, M. (2007). Education Mismatch, Wage and Wage Growth: Over-Education in Sweden, 1974-2000. Working Paper Series 10/2007, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.!/WP07no10.pdf

Litch, A. H., Tasiopoulou, E. & Wastiau, P. (2017). Open Book of Educational Innovation. Brussels, Belgium: European Schoolnet.

Miner, R. (2010). People without Jobs, Jobs without People: Ontario Labour Market Future. Management Consultants.

Macionis, J. J. (1996). Sociology. US: Prentice Hall.

Mohamed, A., Jemmali, H. & Ayadi, M. (2017). Rural-Urban Migration and Income Disparity in Tunisia: A Decomposition Analysis. Working Paper Series, 1085.

Moore, W. E. (1967). Order and Change. Essays in Comparative Sociology. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Morariu, C. N. & Ignat, M. D. (2011). Social-Economic Theoretical Connections: Theories of Social Change. Journal of Social Economy, 1, 26-48.

Mykhailyshyn, H., Condur, O. & Serman, L. (2018). Innovation of Education and Educational Innovations in Conditions of Modern Higher Education Institution. Journal of Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University, JPNU, 5(1), 6-19.

Ndyaly, L. (2016). Higher Education System and Jobless Graduates in Tanzania. Journal of Education and Practice, 7(4), 116-121.

Nelson, R. R. & Winter, S. G. (1982). An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change. Harvard College.   

Nicolaides, A. (2012). Innovative teaching and learning methodologies for higher education Institutions. Educational Research, 3(8), 620-626.  

Nikolov, A., Nikolova, D., Ganev, P. & Aleksiev , Y. (2018). Skills Mismatch: An Impediment to the Competitiveness of EU Business. European Economic and Social Committee.

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2007). New York: Oxford University Press.

Pandolfini, V. (2013). Innovation and Education Systems: Teachers Experiencing Interactive Whiteboards. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 3(10), 1-8.

Poirier, R. A. (1995). Tourism and Development in Tunisia. Annals of Tourism Research, 22(1), 157-171.

Russell, D. L., & Schneiderheinze, A. (2005). Understanding Innovation in Education Using Activity Theory. Educational Technology & Society, 8(1), 38-53.

Takala, T. (2010). Contributions of Formal Education to Social Development – What do we Know on the Basis of Research Evidence? Journal of Education and Research, 2, 1-8.

Trommsdorff, G. (2000). Effects of Social Change on Individual Development: The Role of Social and Personal Factors and the Timing of Events. In L. J. Crockett, & R. K. Silbereisen, (Eds.). Negotiating Adolescence in Times of Social Change (pp. 58-68). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

World Population Review (WPR) (2019, November, 18th). Tunisia Population.

Zuccotti, C. V., Geddes, A. P., Bacchi, A., Nori, M. & Stojanov, R. (2018). Rural Migration in Tunisia Drivers and Patterns of Rural Youth Migration and its Impact on Food Security and Rural Livelihoods in Tunisia. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Zuljan, M. V. & Vogrinc, J. (Eds.) (2010). Facilitating Effective Student Learning through Teacher Research and Innovation. Ljubljana: Faculty of Education.



Taher Ben Khalifa

Department of English, Higher Institute of Applied Studies in Humanities, University of Gafsa, Gafsa, Tunisia. E-mail: [email protected], Tel.: +216 25 065 755



How to Cite this Article

Ben Khalifa, T. (2024). A Critical Perspective to Higher Education in the 21st Century Tunisia: The Problems of the Present and the Challenges of the Future. Trends in Education and Educational Studies, 1(1), 1-13.



Full-Text (PDF)

View / Download

 Back to Articles
 Back to Journals

Abbreviation: Trends Educ. Educ. Stud.
Start Year: 2024
Published Articles:

On Google

On Google Scholar

Taher Ben Khalifa