Tunisia/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education  

8.3.4 Higher arts education and professional training

The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research both supervise higher education for the arts where the Ministry of Employment and Vocational Training in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture oversees vocational training for arts.

Historically, the Ministry of Culture was the only institution responsible for the management of higher education institutions for the arts, and had several universities under its the supervision. Starting from the 1990s, and as a result of an important restructuring of the educational system in Tunisia, all tertiary education institutions (universities) including those associated with the cultural sector were all transferred to be under the supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education.

Fields of studies in higher education that related to culture sector can be determined as follows: architecture, heritage, visual arts, live performances (theater/stage arts), cinema and audiovisual arts, other areas connected to literature,  cultural mediation, cultural animation, cultural tourism and journalism. It should be noted that since 2000 the diploma system and the duration of higher education were changed to be (License-Masters-Doctorate (LMD)). It is composed of: 3 years (basic/applied license)-2 years (master of research/professional) – 3 years (PhD) as a total of 8 years in higher education. The new system enabled the integration of vocational training in the higher education system instead of establishing new training centers concerned with vocational training and its licenses.

According to statistics provided by the Ministry of Higher Education (Based on the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCE)) (2011-2012)[1], the repartition of students registered in fields closest to the culture sector is as follows:

Field of study

Public higher education

Private higher education


% of the total # of students


number of students

percentage of females

number of students

percentage of females

number of students

percentage of females

Fine Arts




62 %


73 %

5 %



76 %


77 %



14 %

Journalism and Information


72 %





0.4 %

Architecture and Building


39 %


24 %


37 %

2.5 %

(Source: statistics of the Ministry of Higher education (2011-2012))

The female students ratio is close to 70 per cent in most fields of studies and the highest ratio of students is in literature section  (14% ) followed by  fine arts (5%), architecture and building (2.5 %) and the lowest journalism and information section with (0.4%).

During the academic year 2011-2012, 5,303 students graduated from Fine Arts section and 11,751 students from Literature section (all certificates and diplomas included: National Diplomas, Basic Licenses, Applied Licenses (LMD system), masters and PhDs). By limiting the higher education institutions with a clear relationship with the culture sector, (31) institutions of higher education in the public sector can be identified and  present in governorates of the Republic among them :  Higher Institutes of Arts and crafts, High institutes of Music, High institutes of theater , Multimedia specialized institutes and with the presence of a specialized institute in Design, an institute for fashion and the Institute of Journalism and Information Sciences.  In addition, There are 3 private High Institutes related to the fields of culture and all based in Tunis: High private Institute of Architecture and Fine Arts-Ibn Khaldun , the private High Institute for audiovisual and design , The Central Institute of Literature, Arts and Communication Sciences.

Despite the high number of diplomas and specializations in higher education and vocational training, it did not succeed in creating a dynamic cultural movement, and furthermore the diploma carriers  have the  highest rates of unemployment in the labor market. The main reasons which led to this situation, as identified in the UNESCO study for 2011 is the lack of a partnership framework between the sectors of culture, higher education and economic development that can identify the real needs and skills for the job market in culture , and the high centralization of culture sector.

[1]" Higher education in figures – university year 2011-2012 “ – Ministry of higher education and scientific research – 2012  at : http://www.mes.tn/arab/donnees_de_base/2012/brochure_ar2012.pdf

Chapter published: 05-05-2015