Transformation of the Royal University of Bhutan: Policy, Challenges, and Recommendations

Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Jeff Unsicker


The modern form of education was introduced in Bhutan with the establishment of the first school in 1915 and it expanded since the first Five Year Plan in 1961. Gross National Happiness (GNH) is the official development philosophy of Bhutan and the most current government policy on tertiary or higher education affirms that GNH is its moral and intellectual foundation. The current system of higher education is dependent on heavy state involvement. However, a recent step was taken by the government to reform the tertiary education sector by commissioning a study by an international consulting group, the McKinsey Company, under the Accelerating Bhutan‟s Socioeconomic Development initiative. Based on their recommendations, the Cabinet has now approved human resource and financial autonomy from government for the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB). The reforms will take effect July 2011, when the RUB will have its own governing rules and regulations approved by the University Council.

As a contribution to the RUB policy dialogue about how to best implement the reforms, I researched and wrote a policy analysis paper that draws on my perspective as a faculty member in one part of the RUB, the Gaeddu College of Business Studies. The paper, which will be shared with the director of the college and others in the university, highlights the potential challenges for the RUB in its transformation process and provides recommendations to overcome those challenges.

The policy analysis argues that ensuring a smooth transition from civil service and government funding to another human resources policy with an independent financial policy is essential for successful implementation of the new policy. The lack of adequate number of tertiary education institutes and professionally trained staff adds to the inefficiency of the institution to provide quality education. The increasing student population in the secondary education system exerts great pressure on the tertiary education system to provide higher education. At the beginning of autonomy for RUB, the government will continue to fully fund the meritorious students. However, the percentage of fully government-funded students will gradually decline, thereby increasing the pressure on many students to find private funding. There is a need to encourage private sector participation in order to reduce the pressure on government and existing tertiary education institutes. Ensuring the accountability and responsibility of the RUB would contribute significantly to the good governance pillar of the GNH.

In addition to the policy analysis for the RUB, this capstone paper discusses the general context in which it was developed, the methods used in its preparation, an evaluation of the analysis, and lessons that can be learned from the process.


Educational Administration and Supervision | Higher Education Administration

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