Background and origins of the CTEF

At the 16th Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers (16CCEM), held in Cape Town in December 2006, a proposal was made by Dr John Rowett, the then Secretary-General, Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) that a Tertiary Education Facility for the Commonwealth should be established as a means of helping ministers responsible for higher education with policy advice and guidance. The facility would also be available to help Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with aspects of their strategy, governance and management.


In response Ministers directed the Commonwealth Secretariat to develop draft Terms of Reference to consider the proposal for the creation of an appropriate Commonwealth facility. In 2007 and 2008 two meetings of senior officials (referred to as the “Senior Officials Working Group”) were convened under the chairmanship of Mr. Duncan Hindle, Director-General, Department of Education, South Africa, to which all Commonwealth members were invited to attend. The meetings were attended by representatives from Barbados, Jamaica, Malta, Malaysia, India, South Africa and UK. The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), Commonwealth of Learning (COL), and Commonwealth Secretariat were present to support the Working Group.


As a result of these meetings three proposals in connection with the facility (now called the CTEF) were presented to 17CCEM and after discussions it was agreed to accept the proposal from the Government of Malaysia and develop it into a more detailed proposal for 18CCEM. The development was pursued by two meetings in the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2011: the first in February 2011 with officials and representatives from the Ministry of Higher Education in Malaysia and the second in March 2011 with the Malaysian delegation and other interested parties from South Africa and the University of the West Indies. Senior staff from the Commonwealth of Learning and the Association of Commonwealth Universities also contributed.


In October 2014 Professor Dato’ Morshidi Sirat, the former Director-General of Higher Education Malaysia, was appointed as Founding Director of CTEF. CTEF had a soft launch on 25 November 2014 in conjunction with the Inaugural CTEF Workshop on Higher Education Funding and Access Issues in Selected Commonwealth Countries. Four organisations have agreed to being identified as “network partners” with a commitment to support the CTEF and collaborate with it. They are: the Ministry of Higher Education in South Africa, the Commonwealth of Learning in Vancouver, the University of the West Indies and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.