Tag: access & equity

Call for participants: summer school in St. Petersburg – “Higher education and social inequality”

The Institute of Education at National Research University – Higher School of Economics (Moscow), China Institute for Educational Finance Research and Graduate School of Education at Peking University invite earlier career researchers and doctoral students to apply to the upcoming 5th International Summer School on higher education research that takes place June 10-16, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The theme of this year is “Higher education and social inequality”.

V International Summer School will focus on the inequalities in higher education as well as the problematisation of the role of higher education in reproducing social inequalities. Participation in higher education has been increasing rapidly over last decades, but social equity has not been achieved. Numerous studies around the world show persistent inequalities in access and participation in higher education shaped by social background. Gains in widening access, especially in systems with high participation rates, are undermined by the increasing stratification of higher education institutions and societies. These challenges call for re-thinking, conceptually and socio-politically, the role higher education has in a modern society.




Kiron University – A Crowdfunding campaign to provide refugees access to a free academic education and degrees

Ronny Roewert

Ronny Röwert

In this guest entry, Ronny Röwert puts the spotlight on a recent crowdfunding-based non-profit initiative to provide education for refugees. Ronny Röwert is an analyst at CHE Consult, a German consultancy and research company on higher education, based in Berlin. He holds a Diploma-Degree in Economics from the University of Freiburg and has also studied at the University of Kiel and University of Auckland, New Zealand. His research interests relate to internationalisation, change management, digitisation and economic impact analysis in the higher education system.

Worldwide, 59.5 million people are on the move as refugees or displaced people within their home countries according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR . That population would be equivalent to the population of Great Britain or enough to make them citizens of the world’s 24th biggest country. Although the current reception of these high numbers of displaced people in the world in the media and political arena is mainly limited to the notion of a temporary crisis, the international community as well as national states will inevitably have to deal with not only short but also medium and long term remedies for this permanent humanitarian global challenge. The major causes of migration – poverty, conflicts, economic crises and negative consequences of climate change – will not disappear and so does not the flux of refugees and internally displaced people.

The majority of refugees are young and often well qualified and talented people. Refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people in regions of crisis face particular obstacles to access education in general and higher education in particular both in their home as well as in their host countries. In the 2013 Global Trends Report, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees identified as main challenges: lack of legal documentation and school certificates, high international student fees, lack of capacity of educational institutions as well as language barriers. All these factors prevent people to live up to their potential and therefore cause despair, unstable societies and high integration costs for host countries.




Report: How to assure fair participation in higher education?

reportWPHigher education systems across the world are undergoing substantial expansion, even if the starting point is in many cases substantially different. However, the general expansion trends puts focus on assuring that this widening participation also reaches under-represented groups. How to assure that widening participation also means fair participation?

HEFCE, the Higher Education Funding Council in England, has commissioned a new report that examines six national case studies that detail effective approaches to widening participation strategy and practices. The main goal was to identify “what works”, what are some of the identified good practices. The case studies focus on impact and effectiveness through multiple levels – from system level policies of widening participation to institutional level interventions.

Based on the six cases in Australia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa and the United States of America (USA) the report examined some common systemic factors that influence access and progression. General educational system structure is also linked to progression to higher education. As expected, system stratification in many cases is linked to the socio-economic conditions of the particular area, and one can identify a concentration of high performing schools in more advantaged areas. Furthermore the report indicates that social class is the key determinant of both success in education and access to higher education. This class division is also seen amongst those who do go to higher education in cases where there is a more stratified higher education system. Students from higher socio-economic background tend to attend highly selective institutions with more research oriented profile, whereas those from lower socio-economic background tend to attend institutions with less prestige and more vocational/professional profile. The report suggests that focus on alternative pathways (for instance, accreditation of prior learning, options to progress to HE from vocational education, etc) can facilitate more diverse student participation.




All of the students failed university admission exams in Liberia?

Map of Liberia (Source: Oona Räisänen)

Map of Liberia
(Source: Oona Räisänen)

BBC is reporting that in one of the two state run Liberian universities, all (!) of the students failed at the university admission exam.

Current Liberian president, the Nobel prize winning Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has frequently made statements regarding issues in the Liberian educational system. She sees the educational system as a key aspect for the nation’s future wellbeing and success:at the end of the day, if you do not have an educated population, we will be unable to build the national capacities of our young people“, and she has called for a total overhaul of the system.

The BBC correspondent for the current case has observed that “schools lack basic education material and teachers are poorly qualified“. However, one could argue that even in that context, there should be at least some percentage of students who would have the basic capacities to successfully complete the admission exams?

Well, the case of Liberia now – none. According to BBC, the university official said that the students lacked enthusiasm and English language skills, and they have made clear they would not be moved from their decision on this. Furthermore, they also argued that it is the government who now has to do something.

Less clear is what exactly the government can do in this context. After the bloody civil war  that destroyed much of the current educational system, there is still much of the basic infrastructure that needs to be set in place.




New research reports on higher education systems in the Balkans

western balkansHigher education in the Western Balkans was for a long period a relatively under-researcher region in Europe, but has in recent years gained more attention and an number of interesting research projects are underway.

As part of the project “European Integration of Higher Education and Research in the Western Balkans,” (read more about the project here) the project team has produced the series of reports entitled “Overview of Higher Education and Research Systems in the Western Balkanswhich are now available for download on the project website. The reports cover seven higher education systems in the region – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo*, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia and each of the reports represents a comprehensive overview of the higher education and research systems in the region, covering topics such as policy, governance arrangements, funding, institutional landscape, and quality, while focusing on the major reforms and trends in the recent years.

Another project that examines the region is titled “Differentiation, Equity, Productivity: The Social and Economic Consequences of Expanded and Differentiated Higher Education Systems – Internationalisation Aspects“, led by University of Ljubljana, where the research team is led by prof. Pavel Zgaga from Centre of Educational Policy Studies (CEPS). In a recent report they have published the results of a survey at seventeen higher education institutions from eight countries of the Western Balkans. You can download the report here. 




Guest blogger: Re-Examining Social Equity and College Access in the U.S.

dr. Nathan Daun-Barnett (University of Buffalo)

dr. Nathan Daun-Barnett (University of Buffalo)

In this guest entry dr. Nathan J. Daun-Barnett writes about the wide-spread consequences of a report that  made unfounded claims about how inequalities in access to college can be reduced in the US. 

Dr. Nathan J. Daun-Barnett is an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Education in University at Buffalo. He did his PhD at University of Michigan and he has worked worked as the director for university relations and policy research for the Presidents Council at State Universities of Michigan. His main research interests are linked to college access, the transition from high school to college, and state policy as it affects the opportunities of students. 

This entry draws on the article “Access to College: A Reconsideration of the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS)“, in Educational Policy. 

In a 21st century knowledge economy, countries across the globe are struggling with growing their stock of college educated workers while balancing concerns over the equitable distribution of opportunities to attend college.  The U.S. system is among the most “accessible” in the world, in the sense that nearly any high school graduate can find a place to enroll and potentially earn a degree.

In practice, that “American Dream” frequently goes unrealized in greater proportions for lower income families and under-represented minority students. As a consequence, much of the college access literature in the U.S. addresses these forms of social stratification in analyses and implications.  There is, unfortunately, a disconnect between the theory and evidence presented by the research community and the range of policy alternatives initiated at the state and federal levels. There are at least two problems that make research difficult to translate into policy – the research community does not operate as quickly as the policymaking process, and as a result, evidence that can be brought to bear quickly by federal agencies may be given disproportionate weight by policymakers seeking to legislate policy solutions.




Call for papers: SRHE conference “Higher Education as if the World Mattered”

SRHE SRHE has issued a call for papers on to the conference “Higher Education as if the World Mattered”, to be held 25 and 26 April 2013 in The University of Edinburgh in Scotland, UK.

Keynote speakers include: Professor Melanie Walker (Free State University, South Africa), Professor Monica McLean (University of Nottingham, UK), Professor Jon Nixon (Hong Kong Institute of Education, and University of Sheffield, UK), and Professor Ray Land (Durham University, UK).

The questions that have been stated as the focus of  the event include: To what extent and how do higher education policies and practices make a difference to this world? What are present priorities and how could things be otherwise? To what extent does higher education address community and environmental concerns? To what extent are participants encouraged to make a contribution to the world?

Proposals for papers addressing these issues are expected in two parts:

  • Part 1 Abstract: a 150 word summary of the proposal which will be printed in the published conference programme and also made available at conference on the CD Rom.
  • Part 2 Outline: a maximum 1000 word paper (not including references)

The deadline for submission is 1 March 2013. All proposals must be submitted via email to fsmit@srhe.ac.uk. 

For more information, see conference website.




Call for participants: Equnet final seminar

EQUNet Consortium is finalizing a project on equal access to higher education with a one day conference “Equity in European Higher Education: State of the Research, Problems, Ideas and Perspectives”.

The conference will be held on 7th November 2012 at the University Foundation, Rue d’Egmont 11 Brussels, Belgium.

The EQUNet process has had focus on examining how to increase access to HE for marginalised and non-traditional groups, and has a strong focus on providing a basis for evidence based policy making. The project is funded by European Commission, and it is a collaboration between 8 associations and 4 umbrella organisations representing various stakeholders, in addition to 4 research institutes focused on research in education and training. You can read more about the project here.

The organisers have indicated that a small number of travel grants will be available, you can read more about registering here.




Online seminar at Stanford on conditinoal cash transfer programmes and access to education

The Working Group Current Trends in Brazilian Education, in cooperation with the Center for Latin American Studies and the Lemann Center for Educational Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Brazil, is holding an open seminar at Stanford that will also be available online. The seminar is titled “The Impact of Conditional Cash Transfer Programs on Education“, and it will be held on June 2nd at 9:30 am to 11:00 am (California Time) (equals 18:30 CEST).

The main focus is on the implications of Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Programs on access to education in Latin American countries. Conditional Cash Transfer Programs refer to initiatives that create a link between individual behaviour and the rights for receiving benefits/welfare from the state. During this seminar, the focus will be on the relationship between this type of programmes and access to education.

The seminar and debate will be coordinated by Stanford School of Education professor Eric Bettinger, and features contributions from two guests. The researcher and former Vice-Minister of Social Development in Brazil Rômulo Paes de Sousa will talk about the Bolsa Família program and its potentials as an effective educational policy. The former president of Peru Alejandro Toledo will discuss the challenges and outcomes of the program Juntos on the Peruvian education.

You can register to the online webinar here.  




Education pays off – but not equally

The Center on Education and the Workforce in Georgetown University published a new report on examining the relationship between education and lifetime earnings in the US.

The report finds that there is a link between educational attainment and lifetime earnings, perhaps an unsurprising finding in itself, but they do highlight that the gap is widening. While in 2002 the premium for lifetime earnings for having a bachelors degree (in comparison to a highschool diploma) was 75%, whereas it is 84 today. However, the report also highlights that in a surprisingly large amount of cases, “people with less educational attainment earn more than those with more“. In addition, the field of study might be more important than the degree level (the study indicates that “an engineer with some college/no degree or a postsecondary certificate can earn more than a teacher with a Bachelor’s degree“), whereas within various fields the level of education still makes the biggest contribution.

Further commenting on the study, Inside Higher Ed further refers to Richard Vedder, who is an economist from Ohio University economist known for his scepticism towards the positive returns of college completion. Earlier, Vedder has also studied the topic more in-depth in his book “Going Broke by Degree” (from 2004) where his central argument was that during the time of continous increase of tuition fees, “America’s universities have become less productive, less efficient, and more likely to use tuition money and state and federal grants to subsidize noninstructional activities such as athletics“.