One review on the impact of tertiary education (TE) on economic development in low-income studies  found:
- There is a significant lack of research into the impact of TE on development. Studies are needed, in particular, to show how inputs and interventions to TEIs and systems are related to different forms of outcome and levels of impact.
- The returns to TE have been underestimated. There is evidence to suggest that TE may provide greater impact on economic growth than lower levels of education. However, all levels of education are interdependent and must be addressed holistically.
- TE provides a range of broader, measurable benefits to graduates, relating to health, gender equality and democracy, among other areas. In addition, it contributes to the strengthening of institutions, and the forming of professionals in key areas, such as education and healthcare. The diverse functions of the university, in addition to its direct impact on economic growth, should be acknowledged and supported.
Another systematic review  suggests that the widely held belief that investing in education and skills promotes economic growth in low-income countries (LICs) is correct in general in that the investment in human capital does have a positive and genuine effect on growth. This aggregate result is obtained after controlling for growth measures, education and skills measurement, country type and estimation type. There was a positive direct effect of education and skills on growth in LICs between education and skills measurement types. Very few indirect effects are reported in the papers identified and therefore it was difficult to use the meta-analysis to draw any conclusions about the pathways proposed.
1. The impact of tertiary education on development: a rigorous literature review (2014)
2. Evidence on the relationship between education, skills and economic growth in low-income countries: a systematic review (2012)