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Widening Participation in Higher Education Haroon Chowdry Institute for Fiscal Studies Background & Motivation Background I: Economics Human capital is a crucial feature in the development of most economies Source: OECD and IMF (2007) Background I: Economics

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Widening Participation in Higher Education

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Widening Participation in Higher Education

Haroon Chowdry

Institute for Fiscal Studies


Background & Motivation


Background I: Economics

Human capital is a crucial feature in the development of most economies

Source:

OECD and IMF

(2007)


Background I: Economics

OECD (2007): half of all GDP/capita growth due to rising labour productivity

Efficiency

Maximise stock of education and skills in the population


Background I: Economics

HE has financial (and other?) returns

Source: OECD (2007)


Background I: Economics

OECD (2007): private IRR to a university degree exceeds 8% in all member nations

Equity

Who enjoys these benefits?


Participation in HE has risen over time

BUT…

Background II: Trends


Background II: Trends

…Access to HE in UK disproportionately limited to those from higher socioeconomic groups…


Background II: Trends

… As is access to the top universities


Background III: Policy

UK target of 50% HE participation by 2010

Higher Education Act 2004

Top-up fees (deferred)

Discouraging entry?

Potential variable fees in future

Two-tier system?

Not yet clear how participation has been affected

Yet stakes are higher than ever


Research questions

Why do these inequalities in HE access exist?

Credit constraints

Information about HE

Type of school

Discrimination?

Prior attainment

Where should policy interventions, if any, be targeted?


Data

We use administrative data on all English state school pupils to look at these issues

Cohort in Year 11 in 2001/2002

Followed until 2004/5 (1st year HE)

History of academic results from 11 to 18

Basic social/demographic characteristics

Other neighbourhood information

Proxy for parental income

Proxy for parental education


The participation decision


Raw social gradients

Material deprivation


Raw social gradients

Parental education


Raw social gradients

Ethnicity


Importance of prior attainment


Importance of prior attainment

12

12

11

65


Importance of prior attainment

2

12

4

12

6

11

87

65


Importance of prior attainment


Importance of prior attainment

4

19

7

15

8

10

81

56


Explaining the gradient?

  • Material deprivation (males)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Material deprivation (males)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Material deprivation (males)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Material deprivation (males)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Material deprivation (females)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Material deprivation (females)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Material deprivation (females)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Material deprivation (females)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Parental education (males)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Parental education (males)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Parental education (males)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Parental education (males)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Parental education (females)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Parental education (females)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Parental education (females)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Parental education (females)


Participation findings

Reduced chances of going into HE almost entirely due to academic factors

School characteristics and other dimensions also play a role

Conditional on history of prior attainment, social inequalities are negligible

All ethnic minorities far more likely to attend


Quality of HE


Background

Interested in not just whether you go, but where you go

Evidence that poorer/ethnic minority participants under-represented at top universities

Also has equity implications


Raw social gradients

Income/deprivation


Raw social gradients

Education


Raw social gradients

Ethnicity


Explaining the gradient?

  • Material deprivation (males)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Material deprivation (females)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Parental education (males)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Parental education (females)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Ethnicity (males)


Explaining the gradient?

  • Ethnicity (females)


Quality findings

Observable characteristics, specifically academic record, account for almost all of the social gradients

Still a slight gap at the top

Subject choice?

Unobserved heterogeneity?

Other aspects of application process?

Ethnic ‘penalties’ still reversed


Conclusions

Massive social inequalities in HE

Even among those who attend

Can generally be explained by social inequalities in previous schooling

Socioeconomic class still matters


Conclusions

Effective WP policies should target the divergence between rich and poor at school


Conclusions

Effective WP policies should target the divergence between rich and poor at school

But when, and how, to intervene?

Post-16

EMA?

Summer schools?

Schools

Targeting resources?

Lotteries?

Early years

Nursery places?

Childcare?


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