Programme Specialist

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Paris, France

The Higher Education Section implements UNESCO’s programme in Higher Education. It carries out analysis on a wide range of higher education issues and policies. It is  in charge of the implementation of the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education. The Higher Education Section is working to improve the evidence base for the renewal of Higher Education within a lifelong learning perspective including on the topics of equity and inclusion, learning pathways and mobility, digitalisation, greening and links with sustainable development, inclusive growth, labour market, skilling and reskilling.  

Under the overall authority of the Assistant Director-General for Education (ADG/ED), guidance from the Director of the Division for Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems (DIR/ED/PLS) and direct supervision from the Chief of Section of Higher Education (ED/PLS/HED), the incumbent is responsible for the management and implementation of UNESCO’s Regular Programme activities as well as extra-budgetary projects in the field of higher education. S/he will carry out global reviews and analysis in the broad area of higher education research, innovation and technological development, as well as lead country level ecosystems reviews and development with an emphasis on linking higher education ecosystems of research and innovation with the aim of advancing sustainable development, industry growth as well faculties and students capabilities to evolve in knowledge economies and societies. In particular, the incumbent will be expected to perform the following essential duties:

Programme Design and Management

  • Coordinate programme and project activities in the field of higher education with specific focus on contribution of higher education to research, innovation and technological development, at global and regional levels
  • Develop, coordinate and monitor extra-budgetary projects and ensure periodic reviews, reporting and dissemination of information.

Policy Advice

  • Initiate evidence-based higher education reviews of national ecosystems of research, innovation and technological development and provide policy advice to Member States leveraging international and regional experiences.
  • Design and implement evidence-based higher education programmes and strategies with specific focus on research, innovation and technological development.
  • Design and implement programmes focusing on developing higher education programmes addressing societal and economic challenges including digitally-smart, low-carbon, energy-efficient inclusive economies. 
  • Design and implement programmes to reinforce higher education capacities in developing cutting-edge knowledge production, improve the volume and quality of scientific research, transform innovations into economic value and societal gains, and utilize science to foster sustainable development.
  • Provide guidance and monitor the work of regional and field offices in the domain of higher education and offer technical support, including capacity development actions and resources, to field staff.
  • Advocate UNESCO’s role/position in higher education and represent the Organization at policy-making levels and in conferences and meetings.

Networking, Communication and Knowledge Management

  • Develop and maintain professional collaboration and partnerships at global level on higher education, research, innovation and technological development.
  • Plan, develop and implement outreach strategies with key stakeholders and representatives of universities, higher education personnel, and private sector.
  • Strengthen cooperation with other Sectors, Field Offices, Institutes to address national and regional priorities in higher education, research, innovation and technological development.

Resources Mobilization 

  • Explore and develop alternative funding mechanisms and resource mobilization opportunities, including project proposal submissions, building partnerships and networking.



  • Advanced University degree (Master’s or equivalent) in education, social sciences, public policies, international development, engineering, or in a related field. 


  • Minimum 7 years of progressively responsible relevant professional experience in education, of which at least 3 years acquired at international level. 
  • Solid experience in working in higher education sector at system or universities level. 
  • Experience in coordinating higher education programme aiming at building ecosystems of research, innovation and technological development. 


  • Excellent knowledge (written and spoken) of English and working knowledge of French.