In the context of low-income countries, the role of donors in public policymaking is of great importance. Donors use a combination of lending and non-lending instruments as pathways of influence to shape policy directions in aid-recipient countries. This paper reports some findings from a doctoral study on the role of the World Bank in the recent higher education (HE) policy reform process in Ethiopia. It focuses on the nature and impact of non-lending assistance by the Bank to the Ethiopian HE subsystem. Based on an interpretive policy analysis of sector reviews and advisory activities of the Bank, and selected national HE policy documents, the following findings are highlighted. First, as a knowledge institution , the World Bank produces, systematises and disseminates knowledge through policy advice, policy reports, analytical sector reviews, and thematic conferences and workshops. Second, knowledge aid from the Bank not only has a profound discursive effect on shaping Ethiopian HE policy reform priorities in accordance with its neoliberal educational agenda but also undermines the knowledge production capacity of the nation. The paper also argues that, for an effective education policy support, the Bank needs to shift its modality of engagement from knowledge aid to research capacity building.