A Country Report:
HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE KINGDOM OF BHUTAN
Cherishing Dreams and Confronting Challenges
Sr. Programme Officer
Tertiary Education Division
Department of Adult and Higher Education
Ministry of Education
Royal Government of Bhutan
1. Introduction: Country Overview 3
Geography & Demographics/Socio‐economic milieu
The political context and policy challenges
2. Overview of Higher Education System 4
Nature and Type of Higher Education Institutions
Enrolment across gender and socio‐economic groups
3. Governance 8
Key Organization and Agencies
Regulation/Licensing of Tertiary Providers
Autonomy and Accountability
4. Quality 10
National policies and legal framework
National Qualifications framework and agencies
Initiatives for Quality Assurance in Higher Education
5. Emerging Issues and Challenges 11
Cross Border Education: Issues concerning quality, regulations,
Higher Education in the context of Sustainable Development
Research in the context of Knowledge Economy
Vocational education and employability
Privatization and commercialization of higher education
6. Financing of Higher Education 13
Public funding of higher education
Student loans/self financing
7. Reforms in higher education policies/institutions 14
8. Conclusion 16
Perched alongside the foot‐hills of the Himalayan Quick Figures
Ranges the 38, 394 square kilometers of
landlocked and isolated mountain Kingdom threw Land Area 38,394
open its doors to modernization in the early km2
1960s. The geographical landscape is entirely Forest Cover 72.5%
mountainous in nature with the land rising from Population, 2006
about 200 meters above sea level in the south to
Literacy Rate 56%
the higher Himalayas in the north reaching over
Life Expectancy 66 years
7500 meters. Hospitals, 2006 29
Doctors, 2006 150
The tiny Himalayan Kingdom also known as the Civil Servants, 2008 18,805
Land of the Thunder Dragon is home to a Telephone connections,
prominent variety of climates and ecosystems. 2006 31,526
Essentially, the country is divided into three major Cellular Mobile subscribers,
land regions: plains and river valleys in the south; 2006 82,078
a mid‐Himalayan (5,000 to 14,000 ft. high) area Post Offices 125
north of the valleys; and the mountainous lands in Total road length,
the Himalayas, which range from 14,000 to 24,000 2006 4,554 km
Registered Vehicles, 2006 33,241
ft. above sea level.
Tourist arrivals, 2006 17,342
GDP, 2006 (current price)
Historically, apart from its occasional skirmishes Nu. millions 41,443
with British India and Tibet, Bhutan’s political and
economical ambiance has remained largely unaffected by world wars and other major events such as
discoveries and inventions in the world. This has led to a largely agrarian or particularly subsistence
farming society throughout the length and breath of the country.
However, due to the proximity and close boarders with two Asian giants, India and China it has
served many geo‐political and economic purposes in bringing the small Buddhist nation onto the
world stage. Due to the nature of technological advancement and evolution of constitutional
democracy Bhutan today has also witnessed the developments across different fields and sectors
while it also has its share of ailments that are associated with any developing country.
A popular and evolving modern form of welfare state philosophy called Gross National Happiness
(GNH), propounded by the fourth His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, served as the guiding
principle for development of Bhutan; acknowledging that spiritual and emotional development are
equally as important as promotion of material accumulation and modern physical comfort. His
Majesty believed that “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product. And
that the ultimate purpose of the government is to promote the happiness of its people.”
After a century of unprecedented growth and progress under kings of the Wangchuck dynasty, the
much loved and respected visionary fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck handed back the power of
governance to the Bhutanese people by introducing parliamentary democracy in 2008, much against
the wishes of the people; an act unparalleled in history of a leader, who on his own initiative,
relinquished the power at the height of popularity. In December 2006, he abdicated the throne at the
age of only 51 and handed over the reign of the Kingdom to the fifth King His Majesty Jigme Khesar
Namgyel Wangchuck. The people of Bhutan, while wary of the changes because of 100 years of
continuous peace and progress under benevolent monarchs, had much to look forward to the future.
The national language of Bhutan is Dzongkha. English is the medium of instruction in the schools and
Dzongkha is taught as the national language; recognizing both Dzongkha and English as the official
Population and Housing Census conducted in 2005 revealed the total population of Bhutan to be
634,982: 333,595 (52.5%) males and 301,387 (47.5%) females. The adult population (15 years and
above) according to the same census was 425,023 including 227,831(53.5%) males and
197,192(46.5%) females which comprises of 66.9% of the total population.
The participation rate of adult population in the labor force is estimated at 67.3% (274,100) in which
the female participation is lower at 60.6% (127,300). The participation of urban women is even lower;
more than half of the urban women are not part of economically active population. Taking into
consideration the ratio of unemployed population to the labor force, the unemployment rate in
Bhutan in 2007 was estimated at 3.7%.
The Kingdom is divided into 20 Dzongkhags or Districts which are further divided into 205 Geogs for
overall administrative purpose.
2. Overview of Higher Education System
2.1 growth of Education System:
The education system in Bhutan has two major components, the ecclesiastical oriented institutions
and the state led general or secular education. With the advent of Buddhism in Bhutan in the 8th
century, monastic schools came to play an important role in the lives of the people; and it continues
today and will be relevant in future too. It is assumed that “any form of education before the
establishment of Buddhism, if it existed at all, would have been informal, home based, oral, and
The modern form of education was introduced in Bhutan with the establishment of the first school in
1915 and more schools grew in the 1950s. It has been promoted and expanded since the first Five
Year Plan in 1961 corresponding to the embarkation of modern development in 1961 to address the
basic educational needs, and develop human resources required for the socio-economic development
of the country.
The formal education structure in Bhutan consists of 7 years of primary education (including Pre-
Primary) and 6 years of secondary education, comprising of 2 years each of lower, middle and higher
secondary. This is followed by a 3 to 4-year degree programme at various university colleges and
institutes in the country. Basic education extends from class Pre‐Primary to class X, and is available to
every citizen in the country.
The minimum official entry age into the formal education system is 6 at the Pre-Primary (PP) class.
Primary schooling (PP-VI) is provided in the community primary, primary, lower secondary and in
some of the middle secondary schools.
Lower secondary schooling (Classes VII and VIII) is provided in the lower, middle and some higher
secondary schools while classes IX-X are provided in the middle and higher secondary schools. Access
to post-basic education (class XI) in government administered schools is based on the students'
performance in the national examinations at the end of Class X. After completion of general education
up to Class X, students then chose from the three streams of study for the higher secondary level –
arts, commerce and science, which determines what profession they pursue thereafter. Those who do
not qualify for higher secondary education repeat or seek admission into vocational training
institutes. Others, who can afford the fees, go outside the country for Class XI or join the private
higher secondary schools that offer Class XI. After completion of high school (Class XII), students that
qualify receive government scholarship to continue their education at the tertiary level with the Royal
University of Bhutan. A limited number of students are selected for government scholarships for
pursuing professional studies abroad, while others who can afford it fund tertiary education both at
home and abroad.
2.2 Growth of Tertiary Education System:
The Ministry of Education is responsible for the development of overall national education system of
the country including tertiary education. Within the Ministry of Education the Department of Adult &
Higher education (DAHE) formally established in 2003 in accordance with the 9th Five‐Year Plan has
the mandate to oversee all aspects of tertiary education, non‐formal education and adult education.
The Department shoulders this responsibility through three Divisions: Scholarships Division (SD),
Tertiary Education Division (TED) and Non‐formal & Continuing Education Division (NFCED) whose
roles are collectively geared towards facilitating efficient delivery of post‐secondary education,
tertiary and adult education in the country respectively.
Cognizant of the need for developing our higher education system, the Royal University of Bhutan
was established on June 2, 2003 under a Royal Charter issued on April 18 2003 on a system of
federation of colleges. The University Council is the supreme governing body of the University. The
Chairman is appointed by the Royal Government, the appointee normally being a cabinet minister
and shall not be an employee or student of the University.
With its establishment the public tertiary education institutions most of which were established more
than two decades ago, were transferred from the various ministries to the Royal University of Bhutan
in 2003 upon. The University the first in the Kingdom now administers two Colleges of Education,
College of Science and Technology, College of Natural Resources, Sherubtse College, Gaedugg College
of Business Studies, Royal Institute of Health Science, Royal Institute of Management, National
Institute of Indigenous Medicine, Institute of Language and Cultural Studies and Jigme Namgyel
It must be pointed out that this discussion includes Monastic education system which has continued
to play a major role in the history of the Kingdom and it has its own system in place.
A few more universities and/or specialized institutions are envisaged to be established in the near
future which may or may not be on similar lines as the present university. These may be established
by the government, private or with international partnership.
At the moment the Royal University of Bhutan is able to cater to the needs of about ten percent of
the class XII graduates on full government scholarships. The other ten percent pursue their tertiary
education abroad mainly in India, a large number of whom are on private scholarships.
2.3 Nature of Tertiary Education:
According to the draft Tertiary Education Policy (TEP) the categorization of levels in the higher
education in Bhutan like many other countries in Asia and elsewhere are mapped on the basis of the
International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) which was formally approved by the
UNESCO General Conference in 1997.
The following table shows levels of education according to ISCED 1997:
Table 1: Levels of education according to ISCED 1997
Sl.No. Level 0 Pre‐primary education
1. Level 1 Primary education or first stage of education
2. Level 2 Lower secondary or second stage of education
3. Level 3 Upper secondary education
4. Level 4 Post‐secondary non‐tertiary education
5. Level 5 First stage of tertiary education
6. Level 6 Second stage of tertiary education
Tertiary education is defined as:
“education offered after class XII, consistent with the International Standard Classification of
Education [1997 edition] level 5 and above.”
Under ‘level 5 and above’ of the International Standard of Classification of Education produced by
UNESCO are included:
Level 5A: Programmes that are largely theory‐based and are intended to provide sufficient
qualifications for gaining entry into advanced research programmes and professions with high skills
Level 5b: Programmes that focus on practical technical or occupational skills for direct entry into the
Level 6: Programmes that are devoted to advanced studies and original research.
Higher education is commonly understood to encompass 5A and 6 but not 5B. Thus tertiary education
includes higher education but is not synonymous with it.
Thus, in Bhutan, tertiary education encompasses both degree and diploma programmes, including
undergraduate diploma programmes.
Higher or Tertiary education consist of professional and general programmes which are offered at
different levels ‐ diploma, degree, taught post‐graduate, and by different modes of study, full‐time,
part‐time, short duration and distance learning provision. Although degrees in Research and PhDs are
not offered at the moment, there are plans to offer in the near future.
The following tables 2 & 3 provide the gender‐wise total number of teaching staff and students
categorized as per ISCED 97 in the tertiary institutes within and outside the country.
2.4 Gender Parity in Tertiary Education:
Table 2: Teaching staff by type of programmes as of 2008
ISCED97 Type of Programme Male Female Total
5A First stage (leading to entry into
advanced research programmes) 374 115 489
5B First stage (Not leading to entry into 165 41 206
advanced research programmes)
6 Second stage (leading to entry into ‐ ‐
advanced research qualification)
5+6 Total 539 156 695
Public Institutions 539 156 695
5+6 Private Institutions ‐ ‐ ‐
Table 3: Students enrolled by type of programmes as of 2008
ISCED97 Type of Programme Male Female Total
5A First stage (leading to entry into
advanced research programmes) 1507 832 2339
5B First stage (Not leading to entry into 800 240 1040
advanced research programmes)
6 Second stage (leading to entry into ‐ ‐
advanced research qualification)
5+6 Total 2307 1072 3379
Public Institutions 2307 1072 3379
5+6 Private Institutions ‐ ‐ ‐
There are students studying in various Indian colleges and Institutes and also abroad in countries
such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Philippines, Uk, Thailand, & USA
Place Male Female Total
Indian Colleges/ 1396 1933 3329
Students Abroad 11 18 29
In‐country and ex‐country together are about 20 percent of the students who pass class XII.
The Ministry of Education having mandate for the overall development of the Tertiary Education
System in the country is responsible for formulating policies and regulating tertiary education
institutes through planning and funding, registration and licensing and quality assurance. Under the
ministry the Department of Adult and Higher Education with Tertiary Education Division under it has
the overall responsibility for all tertiary education activities.
The Registrar for Tertiary Education (chaired by the Minister for Education) together with the Board
for tertiary education are envisaged to provide an oversight and direction to the tertiary education
institutes through the same mechanism as mentioned here above in the following manner.
a. Funding: The Tertiary Education Planning and Funding Board shall enter into contracts with
institutions to provide programmes of study for specified numbers of students.
b. Registration and Licensing: Universities shall be established by Royal Charter or by an Act of
Parliament; and independent colleges shall be required to be registered and licensed.
c. Quality Assurance: All tertiary programmes offered in Bhutan shall be subject to a quality
assurance process which will assure that high education standards are set and maintained.
With the establishment of clear guidance and procedures and specific lines of accountability, it is anticipated
that there will be devolution of major financial and managerial responsibility from the government to the
Organizational Structure of the Royal University of Bhutan
The formal organization of the university is complimented by non‐statutory advisory bodies to
enhance the development and functioning of the new university.
Committee of Directors, consisting of the Vice Chancellor, the Registrar, and the Directors of the
Colleges/Institutes will meet regularly to advise the Vice Chancellor on the overall management of the
University. The continual involvement of member institutes in the development of the university is
crucial to the dispersed model of the university.
Academic Advisory Committee shall be appointed by the University Council on the recommendation
of the Vice Chancellor, and shall consist of senior and experienced academics including overseas
persons who can provide guidance to the University in its development, particularly in its formative
years. The university is in the process of setting up this committee.
Sector Advisory Committees will be formed to maintain close links between the Institutes and those
sectors of the economy, which they most closely serve, to which the staff can best contribute and
where their graduates will be employed.
The only university in the country, The Royal University of Bhutan has its own quality assurance
inbuilt in the system. Further, the quality assurance is envisaged to take place as captured under
draft Tertiary Education Policy which states that:
Every university based in Bhutan shall be required to have an effective quality assurance system and every
programme offered by a college (colleges do not have powers to grant awards), shall lead to the award of a
university and be subject to that quality assurance process. The university may be a university in Bhutan or an
external university deemed by the Registrar for Tertiary Education to be reputable for this purpose.
A process of quality assurance shall be established in every university established. It shall include the following
a) a periodic critical evaluation of each programme by those staff involved in the programme’s operation,
and an evaluation of the plans for or the operation of the programme by a group of peers including
external members, involving direct discussions with the staff, students and other relevant persons; all
based on documentation provided by the staff offering the programme including the defined
programme and the critical evaluation;
b) an action‐oriented report, with responsibility points and a post‐audit follow up;
c) a system of comparisons with international standards and healthy practices;
d) relationship of the programme to the university’s strategic plan;
e) a system of professional staff development;
f) an external evaluation of the university’s quality assurance process itself by an accrediting agency.
Further the draft Tertiary Education Policy states that:
To facilitate the comparison of programmes, transfer of credits, and sharing of modules and programmes a
Bhutan Qualifications Framework shall be established by the Board within one year of the establishment of the
Board. This framework shall be used for all programmes subsequently developed within the country. This
framework shall seek to provide a clear relationship between School, Vocational and Tertiary Education.
The universities shall be subject to a five‐yearly periodic university review, undertaken by external
reviewers, which will cover their quality assurance processes. The report of the review shall be made
available to the Registrar for Tertiary Education.
If the Minister of Education has grounds for serious concerns about the quality of the programmes
being offered, and hence concerns about the effectiveness of the management of the university,
either arising from the external review of the university or from other sources, it may on its own
account set up a review of the university with advice from a accreditation body from another country.
The Registrar for Tertiary Education shall be responsible for ensuring that the public is informed of the
level and standard of each award and programmes available.
5. Emerging Issues and Challenges
Bhutan like many other developing countries also faces unequivocal challenges and constraints in
terms of higher education and issues thereof.
• Increased enrollment at primary and secondary education levels are leading to pressing
demand for access to postsecondary opportunities.
• Dependence of tertiary institutes outside the country leading to exodus of students to India
• Lack of cross‐fertilization of Ideas and linkages with international universities threatening
growth of new ideas.
• Lack of well‐established regulatory system leading to obscuration of output and directions of
institutes and colleges
• And above all institutional lack of autonomy in terms of financing and resources both human
and material has challenged the progressive growth of both staff and campuses.
The rapid growth in education in recent years has come at a cost. As in all levels of education, the
quality of higher education has also been challenged. In Bhutan it is because of lack of critical number
of tertiary institutions in the country.
At present, Bhutan also lack sufficient numbers of qualified individuals to staff a multi‐campus
university providing a diverse array of programmes. The situation is not likely to improve in the near
future. The lead‐in time for such provision is significant and will take several years for a critical mass
of qualified professionals to become available.
The effectiveness with which the teachers, the students and the administrative staff function and the
quality of their endeavours would depend upon the facilities that are available to them. These
facilities may be broadly categorized as academic, physical infrastructure, resources and extra‐
curricular facilities. Provision of facilities involves huge capital investment. The maintenance and
upkeep of these facilities also implies recurring (maintenance) costs. Besides, payment of salaries to
teachers and administrative staff, and other expenses relating to the management of tertiary
education also involves heavy expenditure. It is in this context that funding of tertiary education
becomes a crucial policy issue. It is true that funding by itself does not assure quality. However,
without adequate funding, the quality of tertiary education will be seriously impaired.
The programmes of study must also be consistent with the strategic plans of the country, improve the
employability of students, and meet the human power needs of the economy. They must involve a
combination of knowledge, skill, and personality development. Programmes should be compared with
the best international practice from other universities, from professional bodies, from NGO’s etc.
Libraries, ICT facilities, and staff qualifications and performance should be compared with good
practices in other countries, both developed and developing
Much of tertiary education in Bhutan has remained rather insulated from what is happening in the
area of tertiary education at the international level. Given the lack of a critical mass of institutions and
academics in the country, and the lack of competitive culture among institutions, ensuring and
enhancing quality requires the Bhutan institutions to open themselves up to international
developments. Bhutan must establish mutually beneficial alliances with top‐quality universities and
institutions around the world.
The Quality Assurance system needs to have a definite philosophy underpinning its structure. These
a) A critical evaluation of a programme by those staff involved in the programme’s
operation, and a meeting by a group of peers with the staff, students and other
relevant persons based on the defined programme and the critical self appraisal,
b) an action oriented report, with responsibility points and a post audit follow up
c) international bench marking
d) relationship to the institution strategic plan, and
e) staff development and the development of a culture of quality
To ensure that quality consciousness is put in place, both as an idea and in practice, a mechanism
needs to be put in place to inculcate the essentials of quality at the college and department level and
to monitor adherence to the quality norms.
To address this state of affairs, the Ministry of Education through the Department of Adult and Higher
Education has proposed to the highest executive body for the establishment of Tertiary Education
That board shall be established with the power and responsibility
a) To set goals and objectives for tertiary education, to determine the capacity of the system
to meet those goals, to determine gaps, to develop a strategy to meet the goals, and then
to implement that strategy, with specific respect to those parts of the tertiary educational
system funded by the Board.
b) To allocate funds accordingly (including funds to institutions and funds to students).
The Board’s remit shall cover the planning and funding (where this is appropriate) of
a) all programmes of tertiary education offered in the country in all modes of study (full‐
time, part‐time etc), all subject areas, for all types of entrants (including entrants from
employment or school or other educational and training institutions), and for all types of
students (pre‐service, in‐service, cpd etc);
b) all tertiary training undertaken abroad (whether in‐service or pre‐service)
c) research undertaken in tertiary educational institutions (including base funding),
d) Specific projects which shall be time‐limited, eg research, developmental, capital.
The Royal Government of Bhutan aims to provide an enabling environment for private
sector/investment including Foreign Direct Investment in the tertiary education sector through
clearer procedures, provision of financial incentives, favourable procedures for employment of
foreign faculty and entry of foreign students into Bhutan, etc.
Bhutan will thus need to explore the potentials of using its unique position to develop within Bhutan a
sector of the tertiary education that can cater to the international education market, to attract
foreign students, and thus allow enrichment of student life and also contributing to the economy.
6. Financing of Higher Education
Bhutan provides free education from primary to tertiary level. The constitution, vide section 16of
Article 9 guarantees free education to all Bhutanese children up to Class X. In all government
administered schools and institutes, education is still provided free even though access beyond Class
X is governed by the limit in capacity: students are admitted based on their academic performance.
Students are not only given free tuition but also provided with many other free facilities, like
stationary, textbooks, sports items, boarding facilities and food based on need even in day schools.
Ever since the advent of modern development in Bhutan by the launch of the 1st Five Year Plan in
1961, the social sectors of education and health has received highest priority from the Royal
Government. Even now, these sectors continue to receive the highest budgetary support year after
Table 4: Education Sector Outlay as compared to total budget of the 1st to 10th Five Year Plans
Five Year Plan Total Education % of Total
Period Total Government Budget Budget
1st (19961 ‐1966) 107.1 9.4 8.8
2nd (1966 –1971) 202.2 35.7 17.7
3rd (1971 – 1976) 475.2 90.0 18.9
4th (1976 – 1981) 1,106.2 134.6 12.2
5th (1981 – 1987) 4,648.3 519.1 11.2
6th (1987 – 1992) 9,559.2 778.8 8.1
7th (1992 – 1997) 15,590.7 1,738.0 11.1
8th (1997 – 2002) 34,981.7 3,292.7 9.4
9th (2002 – 2008) 70,000.0 10,209.4 14.5
10th (2008 – 2013) 141,692.2 33,453.5 23.6
Table 5: Annual Budget Breakdown of the Education Ministry, Royal University of Bhutan and
Vocational Institutes for 3 financial years (Nu. Millions)
Sl. Agencies/Institutes 2004-05 2005‐06 2006‐07
1. Ministry of Education 2,956.759 2,367.976 3,072.85
2. Royal University of 235.088 353.490 444.923
3. Vocaltional 50.303 69.300 99.998
of Labour and Human
The government has also made high investments for higher education for India and abroad for
Table 6: Budget Expenditure: Incurred for Undergraduate Scholarships
Sl. Financial Year RGOB GOI
1. 2003‐2004 27.189 32.233
2. 2004‐2005 46.032 32.788
3. 2005‐2006 46.622 31.659
4. 2006‐2007 48.071 25.538
5. 2007‐2008 59.639 31.583
Total 228.553 153.801
In view of the increasing costs and the ability of certain sections of society having acquired the
capacity to finance the education of their children, policy trend is shifting gradually towards cost
7. Reforms in higher education policies/institutions
Social and economic progress has been achieved principally through human kind’s quest for higher
levels of awareness and understanding and the advancement and application of knowledge. Tertiary
education is thus necessary to awaken the individual and realize his or her potential for the effective
creation, dissemination, and application of knowledge and to serve and do good to others.
The development of tertiary education for human capital formation is vital in a dynamic international
context where knowledge‐based work is assuming greater significance as key determinants of
national economic growth as well as global competitiveness. To build on the development success of
the past and prepare for the future Bhutan must structure its tertiary education system to promote
the creation and application of knowledge.
The Higher education in Bhutan is at its embryonic stage although the nation has increasing quantity
and quality of skilled and professionals over the years who were trained in India and abroad. Due to
the increasing number of students going for higher education and also growth of public as well as
private colleges, the Ministry of Education through the Department of Adult and Higher Education
has come up with a draft Tertiary Education Policy which will help in instituting a system to
coordinate, align and expedite the development of the tertiary education system in the country.
Thus, the draft Tertiary Education Policy envisages bringing reforms and changes as highlighted in its
aims and objectives:
Aims of Tertiary Education
The overall aims of tertiary education shall be to:
a) Shape the attitudes and values of our people to provide sound foundation for building a civil society
which is vital for good governance and democracy;
b) Prepare individuals and institutions with specific skills and knowledge to contribute to the economy
of the country and also fill high‐level scientific, technical, professional and managerial positions both
in public and private sectors.
c) Support the development of the individual, society and the nation through creation and
dissemination of knowledge for human capital formation;
d) Transmit to the new generations the lessons of the accumulated wisdom and experiences of the past
for the promotion and enrichment of our culture; and
e) Enable individuals to learn about themselves and their society as a basis for developing compassion
and regard for the wellbeing of others and for the greater happiness of all.
f) Create a backbone of a country’s information infrastructure through their role as repositories and
conduits of information (through libraries and the like), computer network hosts, and Internet service
The aims of Tertiary Education in Bhutan are envisaged to be achieved through the following strategies:
a) Align developments in tertiary education to the needs of the changing society and
b) Facilitate and enhance the growth and expansion of quality tertiary education institutions
for all Bhutanese who are willing and able to pursue tertiary education;
c) Establish relationship between the government and the tertiary education providers in
terms of registration and licensing, planning and financing, and accreditation and quality
d) Create a liberal and stable policy environment that is conducive for the growth of and
participation by private and international campuses in the tertiary education system;
e) Facilitate creation of a knowledge hub in support of knowledge economy in the country;
f) Develop tertiary education as an industry that can cater to both domestic and
g) Provide guidance on financing tertiary education through government and non‐
government sources; and
h) Consolidate and create a system of national research.
A strategic objective for Bhutan shall be to increase research, innovation and the use of new
knowledge in all aspects of the country’s work; to improve the system for the dissemination of
information and the provision of relevant information to persons in need of that information; and
lastly to develop a culture of enquiry and investigation, in society and in schools.
To achieve this objective a National Council for Research and Innovation shall be established.
Higher education contributes to national development in three principal ways. First, it prepares the
primary and secondary teachers who shape the dimensions and quality of the overall education
system. Second, those teachers train the high‐level technical and administrative personnel needed in
government, business, and industry. Higher education institutions operate as incubators of the
innovation and creative thinking needed for an economically competitive society.
Tertiary education institutions also have a critical role in supporting knowledge‐driven economic
growth strategies and the construction of democratic, socially cohesive societies. Tertiary education
assists the improvement of the institutional regime through the training of competent and
responsible professionals needed for sound macroeconomic and public sector management. Its
academic and research activities provide crucial support for the national innovation system. And
tertiary institutions often constitute the backbone of a country’s information infrastructure, in their
role as repositories and conduits of information (through libraries and the like), computer network
hosts, and Internet service providers.
In addition, the norms, values, attitudes, and ethics that tertiary institutions impart to students are
the foundation of the social capital necessary for constructing healthy civil societies and cohesive
cultures—the very bedrock of good governance and democratic political systems (Harrison and
To successfully fulfill their educational, research, and informational functions in the 21st century,
tertiary education institutions need to be able to respond effectively to changing education and
training needs, adapt to a rapidly shifting tertiary education landscape, and adopt more flexible
modes of organization and operation.
In a fast changing nation like Bhutan with its proactive culture, the government, ministry and the
tertiary institutes shall strive to stay tune to the changing times and will continue to evolve as it has
done within a century, from a mythical Shangri‐La to a new forward looking nation state.
1. Draft: Tertiary Education Policy of Bhutan, Ministry of Education, 2008
2. The Development and State of the Art of Adult Learning and Education, National Report, Non‐Formal &
Continuing Education, Department of Adult and Higher Education.
3. Royal Government of Bhutan. Bhutan Living Standard Survey 2007 Report. National
Statistics Bureau, December 2007.
4. Royal Government of Bhutan. Education for All, Mid‐Decade Assessment Report, Year
(2000‐2006). Policy and Planning Division. Ministry of Education, 2008.
5. Royal Government of Bhutan. 26th Education Policy Guidelines & Instructions (EPGI‐
2007). Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of Education, 2007.
6. Royal Government of Bhutan. General Statistics, 2007. Policy and Planning Division,
Ministry of Education, 2007.
7. Royal Government of Bhutan. General Statistics, 2005. Policy and Planning Division.
Ministry of Education, 2005.
8. Royal Government of Bhutan. General Statistics, 2003. Policy and Planning Division.
Ministry of Education, 2003.
9. Royal Government of Bhutan. Population Projections Bhutan 2005 – 2030: Based on
Population and Housing Census of Bhutan 2005. National Statistics Bureau, July 2007.