Programme Specialist


Post Number : ED 638

Grade : P-4

Parent Sector : Education Sector (ED)

Duty Station: Paris

Job Family: Education

Type of contract : Fixed Term

Duration of contract : 2 years, renewable

Recruitment open to : Internal and external candidates

Application Deadline (Midnight Paris Time) : 30-JUN-2024 (EXTENDED)


UNESCO Core Values: Commitment to the Organization, Integrity, Respect for Diversity, Professionalism



The Higher Education Section implements UNESCO’s programme in Higher Education. It carries out analysis on a wide range of higher education issues and policies. It is  in charge of the implementation of the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education. The Higher Education Section is working to improve the evidence base for the renewal of Higher Education within a lifelong learning perspective including on the topics of equity and inclusion, learning pathways and mobility, digitalisation, greening and links with sustainable development, inclusive growth, labour market, skilling and reskilling.  

Under the overall authority of the Assistant Director-General for Education (ADG/ED), guidance from the Director of the Division for Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems (DIR/ED/PLS) and direct supervision from the Chief of Section of Higher Education (ED/PLS/HED), the incumbent is responsible for the management and implementation of UNESCO’s Regular Programme activities as well as extra-budgetary projects in the field of higher education. S/he will carry out global reviews and analysis in the broad area of higher education research, innovation and technological development, as well as lead country level ecosystems reviews and development with an emphasis on linking higher education ecosystems of research and innovation with the aim of advancing sustainable development, industry growth as well faculties and students capabilities to evolve in knowledge economies and societies. In particular, the incumbent will be expected to perform the following essential duties:

Long Description

Programme Design and Management

  • Coordinate programme and project activities in the field of higher education with specific focus on contribution of higher education to research, innovation and technological development, at global and regional levels
  • Develop, coordinate and monitor extra-budgetary projects and ensure periodic reviews, reporting and dissemination of information.

Policy Advice

  • Initiate evidence-based higher education reviews of national ecosystems of research, innovation and technological development and provide policy advice to Member States leveraging international and regional experiences.
  • Design and implement evidence-based higher education programmes and strategies with specific focus on research, innovation and technological development.
  • Design and implement programmes focusing on developing higher education programmes addressing societal and economic challenges including digitally-smart, low-carbon, energy-efficient inclusive economies. 
  • Design and implement programmes to reinforce higher education capacities in developing cutting-edge knowledge production, improve the volume and quality of scientific research, transform innovations into economic value and societal gains, and utilize science to foster sustainable development.
  • Provide guidance and monitor the work of regional and field offices in the domain of higher education and offer technical support, including capacity development actions and resources, to field staff.
  • Advocate UNESCO’s role/position in higher education and represent the Organization at policy-making levels and in conferences and meetings.

Long Description

Networking, Communication and Knowledge Management

  • Develop and maintain professional collaboration and partnerships at global level on higher education, research, innovation and technological development.
  • Plan, develop and implement outreach strategies with key stakeholders and representatives of universities, higher education personnel, and private sector.
  • Strengthen cooperation with other Sectors, Field Offices, Institutes to address national and regional priorities in higher education, research, innovation and technological development.

Resources Mobilization 

  • Explore and develop alternative funding mechanisms and resource mobilization opportunities, including project proposal submissions, building partnerships and networking.

COMPETENCIES (Core / Managerial)

Communication (C)
Accountability (C)
Innovation (C)
Knowledge sharing and continuous improvement (C)
Planning and organizing (C)
Results focus (C)
Teamwork (C)
Professionalism (C)
Building partnerships (M)
Driving and managing change (M)
Leading and empowering others (M)
Making quality decisions (M)
Managing performance (M)
Strategic thinking (M)


For detailed information, please consult the UNESCO Competency Framework.



  • Advanced University degree (Master’s or equivalent) in education, social sciences, public policies, international development, engineering, or in a related field. 



  • Minimum 7 years of progressively responsible relevant professional experience in education, of which at least 3 years acquired at international level. 
  • Solid experience in working in higher education sector at system or universities level. 
  • Experience in coordinating higher education programme aiming at building ecosystems of research, innovation and technological development. 



  • Proven ability to link higher educational research, innovation and technology development to wider socio-economic and sustainable development.
  • Proven capacity to design and implement higher education programmes.
  • Proven capacity to produce high-quality and policy-oriented analytical reports.
  • Strong data processing, analysis and visualisation skills.
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Demonstrated fund raising and resource mobilisation skills. 
  • Excellent coordination, work in a multicultural team, interpersonal and negotiation skills, as well as an ability to network with a range of partners, donors and other stakeholders.
  • Solid IT skills including knowledge of office software and data processing and visualisation tools.



  • Excellent knowledge (written and spoken) of English and working knowledge of French.



  • PhD (or equivalent) in a subject of direct relevance to higher education policies and reforms. 



  • Working experience in higher education institutions.
  • Experience in working in higher education incubators, centres of excellences, research and development hubs and similar mechanisms linking higher education with research, innovation, technological development aligning with economy and societal needs.
  • Proven experience in providing strategic policy advice regarding higher education research, innovation and technological development ecosystem.
  • Demonstrated professional experience in management, design and coordination of higher education plans and strategies at national and international levels.
  • Experience in fundraising and resource mobilization.
  • Demonstrated experience in leveraging digital and emerging technologies including Artificial Intelligence to innovate and renew higher education programmes.



  • Knowledge of the 2030 Global Agenda for Sustainable Development, its related goals (SDGs) and, in particular, SDG 4.
  • Knowledge of challenges and strategies for linking higher education with industrial development, labour market and innovation.



  • Good knowledge of other official UNESCO language (Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish). 


UNESCO’s salaries consist of a basic salary and other benefits which may include if applicable: 30 days annual leave, family allowance, medical insurance, pension plan etc.

The approximate annual starting salary for this post is 126, 118 US $.

For full information on benefits and entitlements, please consult our Guide to Staff Benefits.


Please note that all candidates must complete an on-line application and provide complete and accurate information. To apply, please visit the UNESCO careers website. No modifications can be made to the application submitted.

The evaluation of candidates is based on the criteria in the vacancy notice, and may include tests and/or assessments, as well as a competency-based interview. 

UNESCO uses communication technologies such as video or teleconference, e-mail correspondence, etc. for the assessment and evaluation of candidates.

Please note that only selected candidates will be further contacted and candidates in the final selection step will be subject to reference checks based on the information provided.


UNESCO recalls that paramount consideration in the appointment of staff members shall be the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, technical competence and integrity. UNESCO applies a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of harassment. UNESCO is committed to achieving and sustaining equitable and diverse geographical distribution, as well as gender parity among its staff members in all categories and at all grades. Furthermore, UNESCO is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Candidates from non- and under-represented Member States (last update here) are particularly welcome and strongly encouraged to apply. Individuals from minority groups and indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the highest level of confidentiality. Worldwide mobility is required for staff members appointed to international posts.

UNESCO does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process.