As the GCC and MENA economies look to diversify, improve public sector efficiency and grow their private sector workforce, there is a need for a new mix of skill levels. Young people entering the workforce are having a difficult time adjusting to this change, which is reflected in high youth unemployment rates. The MENA region has one of the highest youth unemployment rates globally at around 30%, a rate that has been worsening since 2012, particularly for young women. Against this backdrop, a recent PwC survey shows that 60% of CEOs believe the education systems in the Middle East are failing at providing students with the right skills for employment.

Education providers are struggling to expand their teaching capacity and research activities due to challenges with funding, access to suitable land, student demand, and the ability to attract and retain top research and teaching talent. The primary and secondary education sector must reform outdated national curricula and find an affordable way to involve the private sector in capacity expansion and improving student outcomes. In higher education, although innovation is a top priority for many governments across the region, funding both education and research is expensive and falling oil prices are limiting the availability of long term capital. Despite efforts to encourage more youth into STEM subjects, the range of courses on offer still reflects the market demand for traditional preferences such as business courses.

Global, regional and local education expertise

PwC leads the professional services sector in the breadth of its education clients and the depth of services it provides.  In the Middle East, we have a team of dedicated education specialists who offer deep strategic and operational expertise across the key sectors, from early learning through to secondary, vocational and higher education.

Our practice works alongside other PwC lines of services such as corporate finance, risk and audit, capital projects & infrastructure, and HR and organizational excellence, to deliver projects from strategy through to execution. In response to the unique needs of our region, we have developed some niche areas of deep expertise including: innovation and entrepreneurship, undergraduate and post-graduate medical education, how Arabs learn, STEM education, gender specific learning needs, early learning and special education needs. We have built this expertise through years of working alongside local and international specialists from across the global PwC network.

PwC’s global education practice is particularly strong in the UK, USA, Australia and Canada, and advises international bodies such as the World Bank and the European Commission as well as supporting some of the world’s leading universities, colleges and school networks. We have an unparalleled higher education network; we audit over 200 universities globally, including eight of the world’s top ten according to the Times Higher Education ‘World University Rankings’ and Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s ‘Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)’. In the US, PwC audit seven of the eight Ivy League institutions. This network provides us with access to renowned institutions interested in expanding into the region or providing guidance to new and emerging institutions.

What we do

We provide advisory and assurance services including: reform and policy development, quality inspection and fee regulation, strategic planning and implementation for new education institutions, curricula design and programme accreditation, operational efficiency, education technology, and market entry strategy and expansion planning. We also have the resources to conduct in-depth research into education sector issues such as labour market readiness and national curriculum reform.

We work with clients across the region and internationally to create world-class P-12, higher education, vocational, and research institutions from strategy through execution.

Institutional implementation graphic

Feasibility Studies
(market assessment, needs analysis, benchmarking, financial viability analysis)

Programme Design and Accreditation
(localisation of internationally accredited course content and pedagogy, curriculum development)

Partnerships (technical and delivery partnership identification, contracting and management, public private partnerships)

Governance and Organisational Effectiveness
(Committee structures, funding models, HR planning, performance management)

Land and facilities
(plot size, built up area, land use, area per student, campus experience)

Finance and business modelling
(cost and revenue modelling, Opex, Capex, ROI etc. )

(strategic planning, business planning, market entry and growth strategy )

Faculty and student affairs
(Faculty management, student experience, support services)

IT systems
(Administrative and Academic, digital learning strategies)

Regulations and licensing
(Quality and fee regulation, risk management - safety and health, environmental security, building/land designation)

(marketing, student recruitment, outreach strategy)

Operational Effectiveness
(policies, procedures, outsourcing, administration, KPI monitoring)

We understand the challenges facing education systems in the Middle East  and we recognise the clear characteristics of  some of the world’s most successful systems.

Some of the challenges in the Middle East

  • Quality gaps between private and public schools
    Learning gaps between private and public schools, such as English language provision and access to Higher Education.
  • Nationals studying abroad and range of curricula
    There is a clear need and drive to give nationals better skills and improved outcomes wherever they choose to study.
  • Lack of school places
    Supply is not keeping pace with the increasing demand for quality; predominantly private education from locals and expats alike.
  • Reaching assessment targets
    Stretching PISA/TIMSS and other assessment goals are in place, with insufficient focus on whole pupil development.
  • Quality of Arabic language and civic/national education
    Balancing the emphasis on Arabic language and Islamic values with international curricula and quality is leading to new models of delivery.
  • Local teachers
    Attracting and retaining high quality local teachers, particularly male teachers, that local students can relate to, and meeting growth and quality targets has proven difficult.

A number of characteristics have been identified from successful global education systems

  • High quality leadership and management
    • Professionalised management and highly qualified leaders
    • Independence for schools and leaders
  • Outstanding teachers
    • Attractive salaries and benefits
    • Appropriate teacher training and development plans
    • Supportive, collaborative, organized and safe environment
    • A focus on the quality of Education courses at universities
    • Rigorous standards for entrance into the teaching field
    • Alternative routes into teaching as a profession
  • Clear regulations
    • Challenging but fair curricular standards
    • Clear expectations for teachers in terms of outcomes and processes
    • Open and clear policy development
  • Clear and fair evaluation
    • Clear and consistent expectations for evaluation of students, teachers and management
    • Linkage between evaluation and improvement policies, and fee increases

There is a clear case for investment in education in the GCC. But how and where to start and how to expand?

A clear case for investment:

A growing population

The 3-18 population in UAE, KSA, Qatar and Kuwait is forecast to rise by one million by 2025.

Pressure on infrastructure

Governments are encouraging private sector participation to alleviate the burden.

More expatriates

Ex-pat families are looking for international curricula, as their access to public schools is limited.

Shifting preferences

A shift of Nationals from the public sector into the private education sector can be seen in falling public school enrolment.

Where and how to enter?

We deliver strategy through execution for government and private clients and across the entire policy cycle

Stage 1:

What is your current status? How do you measure up globally?

Stage 2:

What are the opportunities and what do we need to change?

Stage 3:

What is the roadmap for change?

  • Know your constituents and your ecosystem
    We help you understand the current status of your digital services and your stakeholders’ expectations and consumption patterns.
  • Protect your institution from the risks of the digital services
    We help you quantify the value of the digital assets you increasingly rely on, and protect you from the risks associated with online security and cyber crime.
  • Accelerate your usage of technology in teaching and learning
    We help you accelerate the adoption and usage of technology by working with teaching staff and administrators on change management.
  • Define what your success looks like
    We help you define your ‘winning play’ in the digital age.
  • Evolve your institution’s digital experience
    We help you understand which direction your digital investments should take based on current and future trends.
  • Create new value
    We help you generate, test, implement , and integrate new technology, new teaching and learning methods, and new digital services.

Who we are

PwC Academy is the learning and education business of PwC. We operate across the Middle East and are part of a growing network of PwC Academies present in over 35 countries worldwide.

We have been developing our own people for over 100 years and many go on to lead the biggest and most successful organisations in the world.  It is this deep experience of developing young professionals through to business leaders that we build into all PwC’s Academy programmes.

We are different because we use both subject matter experts within the PwC network and dedicated Academy staff, each of whom bring their wealth of knowledge and practical experience.

What we do

We create learning solutions across all organisational and business needs including technical and behavioural skills and professional qualifications.

We design and customise programmes for employees at every level within a wide variety of organisations from new joiners to CEO’s . Our programmes cover strategy, leadership, finance, accounting, tax, risk, governance, project management, procurement, communication, customer management, human resources, coaching and personal development.

We deliver learning that blends classroom training with innovative tools including the latest educational technologies, so that learning is relevant, sustainable and fun.

How we do it

We believe in the development of talent through building on what people know, how they think and what they can do– not as separate components but as an integrated process to create impact and deliver change.

We design our programmes to deliver the knowledge, mindset and skills needed to solve today’s important problems and predict, prevent and manage tomorrow’s.

Our clients

In the Middle East, we work with private and public sector education providers, governmental and regulatory organizations, in addition to a wide range of large employers and private sector investors. For example, our clients include a government entity working on labor nationalization efforts, a private investor looking to set up K-12 education operations in the GCC, a top-tier regional university looking to optimize its logistical and financial operations, and the strategy development for the establishment of a regionally focused think tank.