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Widening Participation in Higher Education

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  1. Widening Participation in Higher Education Haroon Chowdry Institute for Fiscal Studies

  2. Background & Motivation

  3. Background I: Economics Human capital is a crucial feature in the development of most economies Source: OECD and IMF (2007)

  4. 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

  5. Background I: Economics HE has financial (and other?) returns Source: OECD (2007)

  6. Background I: Economics OECD (2007): private IRR to a university degree exceeds 8% in all member nations Equity Who enjoys these benefits?

  7. Participation in HE has risen over time BUT… Background II: Trends

  8. Background II: Trends …Access to HE in UK disproportionately limited to those from higher socioeconomic groups…

  9. Background II: Trends … As is access to the top universities

  10. 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

  11. 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?

  12. 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

  13. The participation decision

  14. Raw social gradients Material deprivation

  15. Raw social gradients Parental education

  16. Raw social gradients Ethnicity

  17. Importance of prior attainment

  18. Importance of prior attainment 12 12 11 65

  19. Importance of prior attainment 2 12 4 12 6 11 87 65

  20. Importance of prior attainment

  21. Importance of prior attainment 4 19 7 15 8 10 81 56

  22. Explaining the gradient? • Material deprivation (males)

  23. Explaining the gradient? • Material deprivation (males)

  24. Explaining the gradient? • Material deprivation (males)

  25. Explaining the gradient? • Material deprivation (males)

  26. Explaining the gradient? • Material deprivation (females)

  27. Explaining the gradient? • Material deprivation (females)

  28. Explaining the gradient? • Material deprivation (females)

  29. Explaining the gradient? • Material deprivation (females)

  30. Explaining the gradient? • Parental education (males)

  31. Explaining the gradient? • Parental education (males)

  32. Explaining the gradient? • Parental education (males)

  33. Explaining the gradient? • Parental education (males)

  34. Explaining the gradient? • Parental education (females)

  35. Explaining the gradient? • Parental education (females)

  36. Explaining the gradient? • Parental education (females)

  37. Explaining the gradient? • Parental education (females)

  38. 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

  39. Quality of HE

  40. 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

  41. Raw social gradients Income/deprivation

  42. Raw social gradients Education

  43. Raw social gradients Ethnicity

  44. Explaining the gradient? • Material deprivation (males)

  45. Explaining the gradient? • Material deprivation (females)

  46. Explaining the gradient? • Parental education (males)

  47. Explaining the gradient? • Parental education (females)

  48. Explaining the gradient? • Ethnicity (males)

  49. Explaining the gradient? • Ethnicity (females)

  50. 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