Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Terry G. Geske


This study explores the basic types, major determinants, and behavioral characteristics of educational costs in developing countries in general, and higher education in particular in Mali for 1985-1996. A conceptual proposal of cost recovery in higher education consisting of three basic components--a tuition price, a student loan program, and a higher education payment package--is presented. Relationships among economic and human factors, and attitudes toward cost recovery are examined. An instrument was developed to test the feasibility of the cost recovery proposal through the perspectives of several stakeholder groups--students, parents, administrators, faculty, and legislators. The quantitative part of the study was complemented with a qualitative field analysis of outlier high-level administrators identified from survey results. The findings suggest four major categories of educational costs: recurrent, direct, indirect, and capital. Further, macroeconomic factors (rise in demand for education, amount of revenue generated, inflation), and policy decisions (faculty compensation and scholarships) were identified as basic determinants of educational costs. Costs for institutions of higher education in Mali have been characterized by periods of increase and decline, and by variations in both overall and institutional per-student unit costs from 1985 through 1996. The cost recovery proposal was developed for the potential recovery from students of part of the direct costs. Multivariate correlational analyses suggest that willingness to pay is the most important predictor of stakeholders' attitudes toward cost recovery. Multivariate analyses suggest that there were significant differences among stakeholders in attitudes toward cost recovery. The qualitative interviews revealed that although top-level administrators' attitudes were determined by selected variables such as family background and former political orientation of Mali, the study found no differences in attitudes related to gender, position, or rank. Three major conclusions were reached: First, direct costs dominate higher educational costs. Second, Mali needs to rethink its higher education funding policies. Third, at this time, the study disclosed that partial cost recovery in the amount of ten percent of the per-student unit cost would be economically and politically feasible. Since sequencing and timing of the implementation are important, any cost recovery policy should be phased-in gradually.