Structure of Higher Education in Myanmar

Universities in Myanmar remain highly centralized and state run. Student enrollment in university in 2014 was 550,000. Teaching revolves around textbook instruction with little to no research focus. Universities offer bachelor's degree programs, master's degree programs, and doctorate degree programs. The higher education system follows a 4-1-3 year program with 4 years for a bachelor's degree, one year of qualifying classes, and 3 years for a master's degree.

There are two branches of the Department of Higher Education, one for Lower Myanmar and the other for Upper Myanmar, under the Ministry of Education. The branches are responsible for the administration and coordination of higher education in Myanmar. Higher education administrative policy falls under two councils. The Universities' Central Council holds responsibility in generating broad policies for higher education. The Council of University Academic Bodies' responsibilities lie in academic regulations and academic work. The Myanmar Education Committee was established in 1991 and was renamed the National Education Committee in 2011 The committee remains responsible for up-keeping cultural, social, and traditional values within the education system, while respecting the economic and political visions of the country. The committee is chaired by the Union Minister of Education.

Myanmar has 163 higher education universities. All of the universities are state funded with a funding for higher education for a fiscal year. The higher education funding increased by 107 percent from fiscal year 2012 to 2013 The Ministry of Education controls 66 universities and the remaining 97 universities fall under control of the 12 other ministries. The 12 other ministries include Health, Science and Technology, Defense, Culture, Environmental Conservation and Forestry, Agriculture and Irrigation, Livestock Breeding and Fisheries, Co-operatives, Union Civil Service Board, Religious Affairs, Border Affairs, and Transport. Different disciplines are split between different universities, such as medical, technical, agricultural, educational, and economic schools. The universities are run by their corresponding ministry. For example, medical schools are run by the Ministry of Health, agricultural schools are run by Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, etc. The number of universities in each ministry breaks down in 2011-2012 school year as the following:

Sr. No. Ministry Number
1 Education 66
2 Health 15
3 Science and Technology 61
4 Defense 5
5 Culture 2
6 Environmental Conservation and Forestry 1
7 Agriculture and Irrigation 1
8 Livestock Breeding and Fisheries 1
9 Co-Operatives 5
10 Union Civil Service Board 1
11 Religious Affairs 1
12 Border Affairs 2
13 Transport 2
Total 163

There are 33 types of universities, which has increased from 1988 where there were 9 types of universities only offering arts and science disciplines. Some universities have begun offering morning, evening, and night courses, some towards degrees and diplomas, to allow students more flexibility in their schedules.

Myanmar is divided into 24 development zones, and the Ministry of Education ensures that each of these zones has at least one liberal arts and science university, one technical university, and one computer science university. The break down of the number of universities by development zone is as follows:

tate/Region Number of Institutions
Kachin 9
Kayah 3
Kayin 4
Chin 3
Sagaing 13
Tainintharyi 7
Bago 9
Magway 11
Mandalay 36
Mon 4
Rakhine 5
Yangon 33
Shan 34
Ayeyarwaddy 12
Total 163

The Ministry of Education provides two distance learning universities for students who cannot attend a conventional university. University of Distance Education, Yangon in lower Myanmar and University of Distance Education, Mandalay in upper Myanmar have been established. There are 19 available disciplines at these universities. Myanmar studies, public policy, English, and creative writing are some of the disciplines that have been recently added under the education development plans. Students can transfer credits from conventional universities to Universities of Distance Education and vice a versa. The Universities of Distance Education use modern technology to facilitate learning. By using the Satellite Data Broadcasting System, distance education lessons can be transmitted to learning centers that are located most conveniently for students.

The Ministry of Education established the National Center for Human Resource Development to provide students with more flexible options for higher education. The Center creates vocational, technological, and professional courses to meet students' demands. Human resource centers adapt to the needs of local communities such as foreign languages for the tourist industry. Human resource centers offer certificates, degrees, undergraduate diplomas, postgraduate diplomas, and postgraduate degree courses. The human resource centers aim to provide students with a parallel education system that allows individuals to pursue higher levels of knowledge and job-related skills. Students have the flexibility to complete degrees in at their own pace and in their own free time.