Global Attainment and Inclusion Network (GAIN)

About the Network

​The American Council on Education (ACE), with support from Lumina Foundation, has established a global learning community—the Global Attainment and Inclusion Network (GAIN)—for the exchange of innovative practices shown to increase postsecondary degree attainment.

​GAIN aims to identify flexible, student-centered approaches that enable diverse student populations to navigate the postsecondary system throughout their lifetimes to obtain knowledge, skills, and qualifications. Achieving more equitable outcomes for a changing student demographic is a central focus of the project, exploring innovative modes of delivery, credentialing, student support mechanisms, and degree pathways that can help increase postsecondary success among underserved student populations.

A select group of expert advisors, made up of higher education thought leaders from around the world, provides strategic guidance and helps facilitate key discussions and data collection undertaken by GAIN members.

GAIN membership includes representatives from eight founding countries or regions, and each delegation is composed of leaders from postsecondary institutions, policy experts, and workforce alignment specialists.

The primary objectives of GAIN are to:

  • Facilitate knowledge exchange among a global practitioner network of leaders in higher education, workforce alignment, and education policy.
  • Identify exemplary policies and practices aimed at improving educational attainment, particularly among underserved student populations.
  • Raise awareness of effective policies and practices in global postsecondary education among institutional leaders and policymakers in the United States, and examine how innovative, successful approaches may be adaptable across national boundaries and institutional contexts.
Expert Advisors

Former Chief Executive of the Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC)
Cape Town, South Africa

Nasima recently retired from the position of chief executive of the Cape Higher Education Consortium (CHEC), which she headed for the past​ 10 years. The Consortium of four public universi​ties works to establish the Western Cape as a strong higher education region that is distinctively responsive to regional, national and international developments and sensitive to historical realities in promoting equity.   

In a career spanning 40 years she has held teaching, research, and management positions in a number of South African universities and has played a leadership role in higher education policy development and implementation in post-apartheid South Africa.  She held the position of deputy director general for higher education in the national Department of Education for 10 years and ​has served as an advisor to the minister of Science and Technology. Until recently, she was also chairperson of the Human Sciences Research Council. She serves on the governance boards of a number of nonprofit organizations, including The Learning Trust, which supports local, effective, and sustained educational interventions for children and youth growing up in conditions of poverty and exclusion in South Africa.

She continues to serve as a senior research fellow with Universities South Africa and works part time with the Institutional Planning Office at the University of the Western Cape.

President, Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP)
Washington, DC

Michelle Asha Cooper is president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), one of the nation’s most effective voices in championing access and success for all students in postsecondary education. Cooper is an established scholar and oversees IHEP’s research portfolio aimed at informing national, state, local, and institutional policy reform and addressing the challenges facing today’s students. Cooper served as the deputy director for the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance at the U.S. Department of Education and held various leadership positions at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, Council for Independent Colleges, and King’s College. 

Cooper is a member of the board of directors for uAspire and the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. She also serves on several advisory boards, including the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education and the African-American Male Initiative. In addition, Cooper is a National Leadership Council member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities' Liberal Education and America’s Promise (also known as LEAP), which is a national initiative that champions the importance of a twenty-first-century liberal education.

President, University of Campinas (Unicamp)
Campinas, Brazil

Marcelo is president (since April 2017) of the University of Campinas (Unicamp) in Brazil, considered one of the best universities in Latin America. Previously, Knobel was executive director of the Brazilian National Nanotechnology Laboratory (LNNano) of the Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM). Knobel coordinated the Creativity Development Center and was executive director of the Exploratory Science Museum, both at Unicamp. As vice-president of Undergraduate Programs (2009-2013), he implemented the Interdisciplinary Higher Education Program (PROFIS), which combines social inclusion with general education, for which he received the Peter Muranyí Prize in Education (2013). Knobel is an Eisenhower Fellow, Guggenheim Fellow, and Lemann Fellow. His research interests are in nanomagnetism, the popularization of science and technology, and higher education.

Independent Consultant
Bogota, Colombia

Jamil Salmi is a global tertiary education expert who provides policy advice and consulting services to governments, universities, multilateral banks, and bilateral agencies. Until January 2012, he was the World Bank’s tertiary education coordinator. He wrote the first World Bank policy paper on higher education in 1994 and was the principal author of the Bank’s 2002 Tertiary Education Strategy entitled Constructing Knowledge Societies: New Challenges for Tertiary Education. His latest book, entitled Tertiary Education and the Sustainable Development Goals: Knowledge, Skills and Values for Development, was published in August 2017.  In the past 20 years, Salmi has provided policy advice on tertiary education development, financing reforms and strategic planning to governments and university leaders in about 95 countries all over the world. He is a member of the international advisory board of several universities in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Salmi is also a member of the International Advisory Network of the UK Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.

Senior Adviser, European University Association (EUA)
Brussels, Belgium

Andrée is involved in a range of projects on the topics of governance, internationalization and quality assurance in higher education and recently authored the EUA's “Trends 2015” report, focusing on learning and teaching developments in Europe. She serves on a number of boards of universities and quality assurance agencies around the world and has provided advice on higher education to governments in Europe and Africa. Between 2001 and 2009, she was Deputy Secretary General at EUA, with responsibilities for managing EUA’s Institutional Evaluation Programme and QA projects and representing EUA in European and international policy discussions. Before joining EUA, Sursock was director of development at the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information of the Open University (UK), taught at a variety of institutions in the United States, and held an administrative post at Stanford University.

Executive Director of ECHO, Center for Diversity Policy
​​The Hague, Netherlands

Mary Tupan-Wenno is the executive director of ECHO, Center for Diversity Policy in The Hague, the Netherlands. Her professional involvement on diversity and inclusion developments in (higher) education started when she was working for the government. She worked for the Dutch Ministry of Education Culture and Science as a policy advisor at the Department of Higher Education. Mary has more than 20 years of experience with policy and program development on the area of improving access and success of underrepresented groups in higher education, with a specific focus on ethnic diversity. Mary is a founding member of the European Access Network (1991) and is currently the president of the Executive Committee of EAN ( She is also the vice chair of the Board of Directors of GAPS, Global Access to Postsecondary Education initiative ( EAN and GAPS provide a network to broaden her focus on the area of diversity and inclusion in higher education and to enhance international collaboration. 

ECHO is a not-for-profit organization focusing on the development of new strategies, policy and practice to improve access and success of groups in society that are underrepresented in higher education and at the labor market. For this purpose ECHO collaborates with schools, universities, businesses, governments, student- and community organizations (

Partner Associations

GAIN comprises a network of senior practitioners, thought leaders, policymakers, and employers across the United States and seven additional participating countries or regions. Convened by the American Council on Education, partner associations include:






​This work was made possible through generous funding provided by Lumina Foundation.​​



GAIN Overview (700 KB PDF)

ACE, Lumina Foundation to Establish Alliance for Global Innovation in Tertiary Education
American Council on Education | July 10, 2017

The Global Attainment and Inclusion Network (GAIN): Leveraging Global Perspectives (1 MB PDF)
American Council on Education | 2019

Access and Completion for Underserved Students: International Perspectives (1 MB PDF)
American Council on Education | February 13, 2020