This working paper provides a comprehensive descriptive account of policy development in higher education, first at the international level, and subsequently in the two case study countries. Section 1 reviews international policies on higher education and examines differing and changing ways in which widening participation has been understood within them. It begins with an examination of different ideological and economic drivers for reform of higher education. It then goes on to discuss a range of interlocking strategies proposed within these international policies to widen participation in higher education. Attention is paid to widening women's participation in higher education.
Sections 2 and 3 explore the development of policies for widening participation in Tanzania and Ghana, revealing that although policies for greater equity in access emerged with independence, their translation into practice has been problematic. The imprint of international policies for higher education is evident in national policies emerging since the early 1990s.