Higher education is, in the same time and inseparably, a process of acquisition of skills and knowledge and a process of acquisition and consolidation of social status. Development economics and the theories of human capital see the acquisition of skills and knowledge as a major factor for economic development and for the eradication of poverty, across all countries and at all stages of development. On the other hand, the necessities of state building and the dynamics of social promotion induced in each society are specific markers of social differentiation and preferential channels for integration among groups, with a specific role given to higher education in the definition of these structures of differentiation and integration. For this mix of reasons, developing countries focused, after decolonization, on enlarging access to higher education. In the Arab countries, a lot has been achieved in this field. But the general model that emerged in the fifties and the sixties that relied on massive state intervention is being challenged.
In this paper, we assess the adequacy, efficiency and equity of higher education financing in Lebanon in both the public and private sector, respecting the common outline set for the six country cases, while highlighting the challenges which are specific to the Lebanese case and reinterpreting some of the proposed headlines in light of that case so as to broaden the general scope of the approach.
The conclusion of the paper, discusses different approaches and strategies to remedy the challenges of higher education financing in Lebanon, acknowledging that higher education is far more of a response to external stimuli than an exogenous lever or even an autonomous field of action.