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Higher Education and GATS


Trade in education is organized in five categories of service, based on the United Nations Provisional Central
Product Classification (CPC):
Primary education, covering preschool and other primary education services, but excluding child care
 Secondary education, including general higher secondary, technical and vocational secondary and
technical and vocational services for disabled;
 Higher Education, covering post secondary technical and vocational education services as well as other
higher education services leading to university degree or equivalent;
 Adult Education covers education for adults outside the regular education system;
 Other Education; which covers all other education services not elsewhere classified; nonetheless
education services related to recreation matters are not included.
During the Uruguay Round only 29 member countries of the WTO (considering EC as a single member
country) made commitments in education and only 21 of these included commitments in higher education. It is
interesting to note that Congo, Lesotho, Sierra Leone and Jamaica have made full unconditional commitments in
higher education, perhaps with the intent of encouraging foreign providers to help develop their education
systems. Australia’s commitment for higher education covers provision of private tertiary education services,
including university level. The European Union has included higher education in their schedule with clear
limitations on all modes of trade except ‘consumption abroad’, which generally means foreign tuition paying
students. Only four (Australia, New Zealand, USA and Japan) of the 21 countries with higher education
commitments have submitted a negotiating proposal outlining their interests and issues. WTO members have
chosen to impose considerably more limitations on trade in educational services in modes 3 and 4 than in modes
1 and 2. This is also the common picture for trade in other services. Furthermore, member countries have in
general put slightly more limitations on trade in primary and secondary education than on higher and adult


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