Tuesday, 3 July 2012

University expansion has harmed social mobility, says IFS

by Andrew Sparrow via SocietyGuardian

The expansion of higher education over the last 40 years has reduced social mobility rather than increased it, according to a study published by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.1

It says children from wealthy families have taken a disproportionately larger share of the extra higher education places available than children from poorer families and that, because the boost to earnings from having a degree has increased, it has led to falling social mobility.

The report is one of five academic papers covering education and social mobility in Fiscal Studies, a journal published by the IFS. Steve Machin, professor of economics at University College London and one of the authors of the paper on the expansion of universities, said: “There has been a meteoric rise in education acquisition in Great Britain over the past 30 years, which has occurred most rapidly among those from richer families. When coupled with evidence of increasing wage returns to all levels of education, this suggests that the expansion of educational opportunities may have hindered rather than helped social mobility.”

1. Published in Fiscal Studies Volume 33 Issue 2 (June 2012) all the article in this issue are freely available – and worth reading.

Read the Guardian article

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