Equity in Tertiary Education Findings of OECD’s Thematic Review of Tertiary Education Presentation by Paulo Santiago, Directorate for Education, OECD 17 th EAN Annual Conference Crossing Borders: Diversity in Higher Education Berlin , 1 July 2008
Findings of OECD’s Thematic Review of Tertiary Education
Presentation by Paulo Santiago, Directorate for Education, OECD
17th EAN Annual Conference
Crossing Borders: Diversity in Higher Education
Berlin, 1 July 2008
Recommend policies that ensure that capabilities of tertiary education contribute to countries’ economic and social goals
A collaborative, cross-national process to:
Equitable tertiary systems are those that ensure that access to, participation in and outcomes of tertiary education are based only on individuals’ innate ability and study effort. They ensure that educational potential at tertiary level is not the result of personal and social circumstances, including of factors such as socio-economic status, gender, ethnic origin, immigrant status, place of residence, age, or disability.
Equity of what? Access versus outcomes
Equity for whom? Range of dimensions
Family socio-economic background, gender, immigrants, minorities, place of residence, age, disability.
Socio-economic status impacts on the aspirations for tertiary studies of secondary students
Female participation in tertiary education has improved significantly in recent decades
Assess extent and origin of equity issues:
Systematic collection of data.
Making tertiary education more equitable requires policy to intervene much earlier
Career guidance and counselling services at the school level are instrumental in improving equity of access
Provide opportunities for tertiary education study from any track in upper secondary school
Strengthen the integration of planning, policy and analysis between secondary and tertiary education systems
Diversify the supply of tertiary education to accommodate a more diverse set of learners
Consider alternative types of provision to account for the cultural diversity of the population
Development of institutions with diverse cultural foundations
Improve the access to tertiary education in remote areas by expanding distance learning and regional learning centres
Diversify criteria for admission and give a say to institutions in entrance procedures
Consider positive discrimination policies for particular groups whose prior educational disadvantage is well identified
Consider alternative ways of acquiring eligibility for tertiary education
Improve transfers between different types of institutions within tertiary education
Provide incentives for tertiary education institutions to widen participation and provide extra support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds
Special financial incentive for institutions to attract less represented groups; positive discrimination; studies progression support (e.g. tutoring services); adapting the learning environment to account for the diversity of the student body.
Encourage institutions to be more responsive to the needs of adult learners
Sustain efforts to improve gender parity at all levels of tertiary education and address gender stereotyping in subject choice
Grant special provisions for students with disabilities
- Targeted support: accessibility to the buildings; resources for institutions to provide special support; special entrance procedures; targeted grant schemes.
- Account for special rhythms.
- Avoid stigmatisation.
- Life course perspective.
- Distance learning opportunities.
Place more emphasis on equity of outcomes
Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society
Preliminary version, launched at International Conference in April 2008, available from:
For further information and other documentation: