Svava Bjarnason is the former Principal Education Specialist at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group. In this capacity, she was a member of the World Bank Education Sector Board from 2007 to 2010.
Prior to joining the IFC in 2007, Svava Bjarnason was the founding Director of the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education and held a dual post as Director of Research and Strategy at the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) based in London. Before joining the ACU in 1998, Svava was a consultant in higher education in the United Kingdom. She has served on numerous expert groups for the OECD and UNESCO.
Whilst was consulting and working at the ACU, Svava was part of the European Universities Association Institutional Reviews team. She also led the ACU's international university benchmarking programme for over five years which drew institutional leaders from Australia, Canada, the UK and a number of African Commonwealth countries together annually.
Allied to this was one of the HEA's e-Learning and Benchmarking and Pathfinder Programme in 2006/07. During her 8 year tenure at the IFC/World Bank, Svava’s primary role was to undertake academic due diligence evaluations for the over 40 private institutions they sought to support. The institutions were located in over 30 different countries and drawn from a range of geographies such as Latin and South America, Central Asia, East Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe.
Global Teaching Excellence Award