There are currently 38 public and 76 private institutions of higher education in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s war remains a major problem in the country, particularly for education. However, significant efforts were made to stabilize and encourage tertiary education among students. In November 2009, the Ministry of Education introduced the National Higher Education Strategic Plan: 2010- 2014 with its primary aim to improve the public and private education system to reach high standards, to incorporate scientific research and to be internationally recognized. Since 2001, enrollment rates have grown exponentially reaching a maximum of 9,69% in 2018 from a minimum of 1,2% in 2003. Ministries’ websites are available at https://moe.gov.af/ and https://mohe.gov.af/.
The Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) regulates Afghanistan’s tertiary education. While the educational system follows all three cycles: Bachelor’s (کارشناسی), Master’s (کارشناسیارشد) and PhD (دُکتُرا), PhDs are not so common, and universities will mostly offer only undergraduate studies. Similarly with the US, students have their first year of general education after which they can choose a field of study or major. Completion of the course will take up to five years for subjects like engineering, pharmacy or veterinary and four for a Bachelor of Arts or Sciences. Medicine and related subjects work like an integrated course and last for 7 years; students are awarded with the Medical Doctor (MD) degree. First and last year will usually be an internship. Masters are popular within private institutions in the fields of teaching or engineering while Nangarhar University was the first university to offer a PhD program in 2014. Advances in higher education are owing to partnerships with universities from countries like the UK, the USA, Sweden or Germany. Admission at university is gained based on the Kankor exam, taken after finishing high school and obtaining the 12 Grade Graduation Certificate. However, this is not a requirement for private institutions. The same grading system is used in secondary and higher education (a scale from 0 to 100) and below 40 is unsatisfactory. Some private universities implemented the ECTS system, but it is not officially the grading system in the country. The academic year has 36 (six-day) working weeks structured into two semesters. In general, courses are taught in Persian, but other popular choices include Arabic or English and there are several language courses available.
The current Afghan constitution states the free right of education up until Bachelor which means that students are exempted from tuition fees in the first cycle. Nevertheless, recently, some private institutions are now fee-based and range from AFN 1,500 (USD 30) to 15,000 (USD 300) per month for undergraduate studies, but scholarships are available.
Information for International Students
Afghanistan, despite rapid developments in education, struggles to meet international students’ expectations due to the shortage in courses available, especially for postgraduate studies. In terms of living costs, Kabul, the capital, is estimated to be 68.74% less expensive than London. For a single person, costs range somewhere close to the sum of 250 £ per month without rent. A full list of average prices is provided here. One particular issue in Afghanistan is the discrimination of women in education. However, policies and projects are being implemented to support women’s rights.