Interest in higher education has increasingly grown since1980 where the "Law of Higher Education" was issued and followed by the establishment of Higher Education Council (HEC) in 1982 to work on supervising institutions of higher education.
In 1985, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research was established and the Law of Higher Education No. (28) for the year 1985 was issued to set the goals of higher education, powers and responsibilities of both the Ministry and Higher Education Council and the relationship with institutions of higher education.
Thereafter, the Ministry of Higher Education was abolished and replaced by the Council of Higher Education by virtue of the Law of Higher Education No. (6) For the year 1998 which was issued after 13 years of the establishment of the Ministry, and under which all Jordanian community colleges were affiliated to Al-Balqa' Applied University.
After His Majesty King Abdullah II had assumed his constitutional powers, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research was re-established on the 21st of August 2001 by the Royal Decree, assuming the responsibility of supervising and having control over public and private higher education institutions, this is beside promoting the level of higher education in order to align and keep pace with developments witnessed by higher education sector in the world, humanitarian and environmental needs as well as expectations as a whole.
In 2001, three of the laws were issued to regulate the Ministry's work progress which were amended, hereinafter, in the years 2003/2004 which are:
- The temporary Law of Higher Education and Scientific Research and its amendments No. 41 for the year 2001.
- The temporary Law of Public Jordanian Universities and its amendments No. 42 for the year 2001.
- The temporary Law of Private Jordanian Universities and its amendments No. 43 for the year 2001.
The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research works on supervising the sector of higher education in Jordan through (1) the Higher Education Council which assumes the responsibility of establishing the general policy for the higher education sector, (2) the Scientific Research Support Fund and (3) the Higher Education Accreditation Commission; with the assistance of (4) the technical and administrative staff of the Ministry represented by various departments that support work progress in order to promote the level of higher education in Jordan. This is also achieved through specialized scientific committees that verify all the certificates issued by non-Jordanian institutions of higher education, recognizing, equalizing and authenticating all documents issued thereof.
Furthermore, the Ministry supports the outstanding needy students who study in the public Jordanian universities as it awards:
- scholarships for the Kingdom and districts top students,
- grants and loans presented by the Student Support Fund,
- grants presented by the private sector,
- grants for the outstanding graduate students presented by the Scientific Research Support Fund which also supports the scientific research projects that respond to the national priorities and requirements; and which provides grants for outstanding graduates.
In addition to all that mentioned above, the Ministry also worked on developing several international programs aiming at supporting the work of the ministry as well as the sector as a whole, such as:
- Trans European Mobility Program for University Students (TEMPUS).
- Bridging the Gap between Higher Education outputs and the Labor Market in Jordan, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP/Jordan)
- Higher Education Reform for Knowledge Economy (HERfKE) Project, in cooperation with the World Bank.
Given the developments that took place in the sector of higher education in Jordan, laws and regulations that govern the work of the sector required a reconsideration in order to maintain the quality of higher education outputs and supporting universities autonomy. Thus, the Law of Jordanian Universities No. (20) for the year 2009 and the new Law of Higher Education No. (23) for the year 2009 were issued, whereby the following units were established:
- The Policy Analysis and Planning Unit which assumes, by virtue of the new law, the responsibilities of collecting data and information on higher education sector, conducting studies to support the work of Higher Education Council and many other duties stated in the law.
- The Unified Admission Coordination Unit which assumes the responsibility of students' admission into public universities according to the admission principles approved by the Council of Higher Education.
After the issuance of the Law of Higher Education Accreditation Commission No. (20) for the year 2007, whereby the Commission shall be financially and administratively independent juridical person, aims of the new independent entity are summarized by the following:
- Ensuring that the institutions of higher education applies the Criteria of Programs and Institutional Accreditation.
- Improving and assuring the quality of higher education in the Kingdom.
- Stimulate institutions of higher education to open up and interact with universities, institutions of scientific research and international accreditation and quality assurance commissions.
- Developing higher education by applying specific measurement criteria.
As a continuation of the Ministry's efforts to develop all of its actions in accordance with the Ministry Strategic Plan for the years 2007-2010, the Ministry has launched several quantum and unique initiatives, such as participating in King Abdullah II's Government Excellence Award that came to give more attention to both employees who are working at public institutions and service recipients; besides stressing the importance of ongoing training and teaching and the different incentives and awards that employees might receive.
In the area of developing the institutional performance, the Ministry is recently working on:
- Restudying its strategic plan and developing it.
- Identifying and measuring the performance indicators of its goals.
- Developing work plans and following-up performance.
- Building the organizational structure.
- Suggesting work procedures that develop working method and facilitate proceedings.
- Updating job descriptions.
- Suggesting reference services presented to service recipients.
- Publishing brochures and setting up the annual reports on the significant achievements of the Ministry.
- Involving service recipients in decision-making by activating the complaints box in order to provide suggestions and recommendations and making decisions thereon.
- Evaluating service recipients' satisfaction and increase the percentage of their satisfaction.
- Evaluating employees satisfaction and increase the percentage of their satisfaction by training and qualifying them and awarding them incentives and rewards.
Moreover, in the area of cultural relationships, the ministry has:
- concluded several international agreements and executive programs resulted in exchanging many foreign students and sending out many Jordanian students to study abroad.
concluded several cooperation agreements with different international scientific institutions such as Fullbright Program, the Arab Federation for Technical Education, International Leadership Academy/ United Nation University-Jordan and many others aiming at:
- Encouraging international communication and cooperation in the fields of science and culture.
- Participating in conferences, workshops and technical courses.
- Exchanging academics.
- Cooperated with the World Bank which supports several projects of education and higher education sectors; funds unique projects lie within these sectors and supports community colleges female graduates to be engaged in labor markets in order to realize equal opportunities.