Like the government of many other countries, Qatar’s government views education as a crucial element in the nation’s economic, social, and political development. Qatar has embarked on reforms at all levels of its education system, the goal being to develop the human capital of Qatari nationals and to ensure that Qatar’s citizens can contribute fully to society, both economically and socially.

Progress is being made, but Qatar still faces a number of challenges. The education system for kindergarten through grade 12 (K–12) does not adequately prepare Qataris for work or post-secondary study, and current reforms to the K–12 system will take time to bear fruit. The Qatari population is small, and the country depends on a large expatriate workforce for both low - and high -skilled labor. Few Qataris have the training or qualifications needed for high-demand, high-skill jobs. Employment practices, which are linked to the social welfare system, provide Qataris, especially men, with secure, well compensated jobs in the government sector: Nearly 77 percent of employed Qataris work in the government or government enterprise sectors. And Qatari women, who are more highly educated than Qatari men, are less likely to pursue career employment and have limited employment opportunities because of cultural tradition.

Qatar has used its wealth to improve post-secondary educational opportunities — for example, by establishing a number of world-class institutions in Doha’s Education City. But these efforts to enhance the quality of education have not undergone a broad strategic review. As a  xiv Post-Secondary Education in Qatar result, the extent to which available post-secondary educational offerings can meet Qatar’s current and future demands remains uncertain.

Qatar’s Supreme Education Council (SEC) asked RAND Education to analyze the current situation and to help articulate priorities for developing post-secondary educational opportunities, either in Qatar or through financed study abroad. The resulting one-year study addressed several questions: In which occupations can Qataris make the greatest contribution to the society and economy, and what education and training are needed to realize these contributions? What measures might encourage more Qataris, especially young men, to pursue post-secondary education? To what extent do existing institutions meet education and training needs? Are new investments required, and if so, where? What are the benefits and costs of establishing local post-secondary institutions at the undergraduate and graduate levels versus sending students abroad for these studies?