The Program for Research on Private Higher Education
Dedicated to Building Knowledge about Private Higher Education around the World

Vanishing Zero


Whereas our N for dataset computations is usually 192, for Vanishing Zero calculations it is 179; why? For most computations, the 13 cases (not showing whether there is private while showing total enrollment are dwarfed by the 179 cases which do show both sectors and so inclusion of the 13 understates the private share for the 192 only slightly (as shown in the PROPHE Dataset Development file [web]). When it comes to counting the number of zero PHE cases, however, the 13 unknowns weigh too heavily against our known 10 cases of zero PHE; anywhere from 0 to 13 of the 13 might have PHE, too rangy an uncertainty. It is much preferable to compute reliably 10/179.[1]

Table 1. PHE’s Vanishing Zero

Relevant Category  Number of Cases 
Total number of countries with data 192 (18 countries of the total 210 in the dataset are NA)
Zero PHE shown for country in dataset 24 (11 of which are only very small systems)
PROPHE considers as still TRULY Zero PHE 10 (out of 24)



1. Zero PHE. We know that the following countries have zero PHE: Algeria, Bhutan, Cuba, Djibouti, Eritrea, Greece, Luxembourg, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Among these Bhutan, Djibouti and Luxembourg are very small.

2. UIS shows as zero for 2010 dataset and PROPHE follows suit in its tables but we know that 14 of the 24 in fact have operating degree-granting PHE. Inclusion as zero in the dataset means that we underestimate PHE, albeit only slightly at the global or regional levels. but we properly count the real number of countries with no PHE as just 10.

Table 2. Countries with 0 PHE in 2010 Dataset by Region and System Size

Region Country System Size
  Eritrea * Small
  Sierra Leone Small
  Swaziland Very Small
Arab States    
  Algeria * Large
  Djibouti * Very Small
  Mauritania Small
  Bhutan * Very Small
  Myanmar * Medium
  Palau Very Small
  Samoa Very Small
  Sri Lanka Small
  Tajikistan Small
  Turkmenistan * Small
  Uzbekistan * Small
  Andorra Very Small
  Greece * Medium
  Luxembourg * Very Small
  Malta Small
Latin America and the Caribbean    
  Barbados Small
  Bermuda Very Small
  British Virgin Islands Very Small
  Cayman Islands Very Small
  Cuba * Medium
  Guyana Very Small

Note: The 10 systems marked with (*) are the only ones PROPHE counts for its list of countries with still Zero PHE.

Table 3. Vanishing 0 PHE 2000-2010

No. Country Region System Size Private % 2010 Private % 2000
1. Cape Verde Africa Small 60.1 0
2. Central African Republic Africa Small 14.2 0
3. Comoros Africa Very Small 23.3 0
4. Gambia Africa Very Small 81.1 0
5. Lesotho Africa Small 13.7 0
6. Malawi Africa Small 5.8 0
7. Syrian Arab Republic Arab States Medium 6.0 0
8. Tunisia Arab States Medium 3.4 0
9. Afghanistan Asia Small 16.5 0
10. Brunei Darussalam Asia Very Small 0.8 0
11. Albania Europe Small 19.1 0
12. Anguilla Latin America and the Caribbean Very Small 81.5 0
13. Montserrat Latin America and the Caribbean Very Small 100 0
14. Trinidad and Tobago Latin America and the Caribbean Small 10.0 0
15. Turks and Caicos Islands Latin America and the Caribbean Very Small 100 0
16. Eritrea Africa Small 0 0
17. Sierra Leone Africa Small 0 0
18. Swaziland Africa Very Small 0 0
19. Algeria Arab States Large 0 0
20. Djibouti Arab States Very Small 0 0
21. Mauritania Arab States Small 0 0
22. Bhutan Asia Very Small 0 0
23. Myanmar Asia Medium 0 0
24. Palau Asia Very Small 0 0
25. Samoa Asia Very Small 0 0
26. Sri Lanka Asia Small 0 0
27. Tajikistan Asia Small 0 0
28. Turkmenistan Asia Small 0 0
29. Uzbekistan Asia Small 0 0
30. Andorra Europe Very Small 0 0
31. Greece Europe Medium 0 0
32. Luxembourg Europe Very Small 0 0
33. Malta Europe Small 0 0
34. Barbados Latin America and the Caribbean Small 0 0
35. Bermuda Latin America and the Caribbean Very Small 0 0
36. British Virgin Islands Latin America and the Caribbean Very Small 0 0
37. Cayman Islands Latin America and the Caribbean Very Small 0 0
38. Cuba Latin America and the Caribbean Medium 0 0
39. Guyana Latin America and the Caribbean Very Small 0 0



The 10 countries marked with * are still considered as Zero PHE.

  1. Algeria.* Algeria remains one of the few most important cases of 0 PHE, the largest case, faithful to French colonial roots. By 2014, however, concrete proposals were submitted to found private universities.
  2. Barbados. Although we enter the UIS’s 0% private, we know that there is PHE in Barbados. Indeed the Barbados Accreditation Council lists 25 “post-secondary/tertiary education and training providers” but the list fails to include enrollment data. All we can say is that the private share is small, surely under 10% and probably under 5% of the undergraduate level.
  3. Bhutan.* We put PHE enrollment for Bhutan as 0 because UIS showed 0 PHE enrollment in 2008. Bhutan remains without PHE, though now establishment of PHE is very much discussed.
  4. Cuba.* Cuba remains one of the two most striking global examples of 0 PHE and it remains so quite by design. Algerian higher education, the second case, is substantially larger but it appears on the verge of establishing PHE.
  5. Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) remains among those countries that UIS and PROPHE show with zero private enrollment or NA but PROPHE does not count it on its list of countries without PHE. The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), founded by evangelical Christians, opened in 2010, and is officially private, whatever that could possibly mean in North Korea ( For all years we show we stick with the UIS NA. Note that UIS newly released data in 2017 show total enrollment for 2009, 2011, and 2015 respectively as 593,179; 600,424; and 565,350.
  6. Djibouti.* Higher education lists show only the University of Djibouti, which is public.
  7. Eritrea.* broke away from Ethiopia in the early 1990s. According to NOKUT (2013), the SMAP Institute of Training, Education and Consultancy is a small degree-granting college opened in 2005 offers bachelor degrees as well as diplomas. Also functioning is British International Institute but through a branch institute. 
  8. Greece.* Greece remains listed as 0 PHE and that continues to be consistent with national legislation.
  9. Luxembourg.* remains listed as 0, though it is not clear whether some enrollment should be government-dependent private. In any case, the country’s total higher education enrollment is in our very small category, under 10,000.
  10. Mauritania. Although UIS still shows 0 PHE in Mauritania in 2013, several PHE institutions have been created recently (Sawahel, 2015).
  11. Myanmar* remains without PHE, though now its establishment is very much discussed.
  12. Sierra Leone. Some reports indicate as many as 24 private institutions operating by 2011 vs 0 in 2004, an authorizing act issued in 2005, but no institution was yet registered with the Tertiary Education Commission. There is also word of one private “university” and with an estimate of 3,758 or 15% of enrollment.
  13. Tajikistan. UIS shows that Tajikistan has recently established PHE, though we maintain the UIS’ zero for 2000, 2005, and 2010. PHE is very limited, tottering on a political-legal edge (Hasanova, 2010).
  14. Turkmenistan.* UIS shows no higher education data, and though we read of the private International Turkman-Turkish University, Tursunkulova (2005) says there is no PHE. In any case the one private institution was shut down in 2016. ( PROPHE’s dataset maintains the UIS zero.
  15. Uzbekistan.* Tursunkulova (2005) says there is de facto as opposed to legally recognized PHE. Westminster International University in Tashkent is a cross-border institution and degrees are validated by Westminster. As of at least 2012 there was still no domestic PHE, though 1997 legislation permits it (World Bank, 2014).

[1] We might speculate that the proportional presence of zero PHE cases would be greater among the 13 countries than among the 179, given that most of the 13 are small countries with limited (if any) higher education. In short, if we had reliable data on all 210 countries in the dataset, we would likely see a higher share of countries with zero PHE than we see within our set of 179, but because most of the 31 would be low enrollment systems, actual global enrollment calculations would change very little.