This research examines regional differences in higher education participation rates in Sudan, and their relations with socioeconomic factors related to development, such as human development index (HDI), women’s status, urban/rural, and source of income. We pay special attention to areas of Sudan where long-running conflicts exist. Two datasets are used: the 2009 National Baseline Household Survey, conducted by Sudan’s Central Bureau of Statistics; and 2016–2017 matriculating students’ data, obtained from Sudan’s Ministry of Education. Regression analysis of the household survey data shows that the most significant factors associated with university attendance are having electricity at home, having a mother who has completed primary education, and being from a non-conflict region. University entrance data shows that young adults from conflict regions lag markedly behind the rest of Sudan in entering students’ academic level. Educational resources in Sudan are densely concentrated in the capital Khartoum, and higher-performing students (especially males) from all regions tend to enroll in universities in Khartoum. Regional universities’ student bodies consist largely of lower-performing students from the same region, especially in conflict regions. Women’s participation in higher education is robust, and women bachelor’s students outnumber men. Our analysis suggests that the following policies could be most effective in improving regional higher education enrollment rates and outcomes: (1) improve infrastructure (electric power in particular) in underserved regions; (2) provide widespread primary education for women; (3) put additional resources into regional universities, to encourage geographical diversity and to better serve women in underdeveloped regions.
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