Tag Archives: higher education

Videos of Conference Panel V: “Inequality, Education and the Labor Market”

Chair: Andreas Eckert (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin/Forum)DSC02159


Augustin Emane (Institut d’Etudes Avancées de Nantes)

Patricio Solís (El Colegio de México, Mexico City)

Anja Weiß (Universität Duisburg-Essen)

In many societies, (higher) education has been equated with a form of professional formation whose focus lies on the requirements of enterprises. At the same time, a reduced individual dividend for education (that is, a decreasing value of titles and degrees because of an increasing level of education throughout the whole society) has become observable. To what extent are opportunities in the labor market dependent on education and (to what extent) has this connection loosened during the last decades? Besides university studies, which alternative routes are likely to lead to a successful career? How are the factors of inter-generational inequality, on the one hand, and education and the labor market, on the other, intertwined?

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Videos of Conference Panel III: “Social Diversity and Education”

Chair: Jana Tschurenev (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)153_7769


Yusuf Sayed (Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town)

Céline Teney (Universität Bremen)

Martha Zapata Galindo* (Freie Universität Berlin)

Regions outside Europe are often attested a higher level of social heterogeneity and inequality on various axes. But even in Western Europe, social change and processes of migration have generated a greater degree of social diversity during the last decades. Which interdependencies, if any, can be traced between social heterogeneity and ideas/systems of education? In which contexts has education facilitated the empowerment of marginalized subjects and groups? How do students from different social backgrounds make use of educational opportunities? What role do habitus and practices of assessment within the educational institutions play? What influence do gender and class inequalities or other factors of social discrimination have on the accessibility of (higher) education? What experience do we have with affirmative action and quotas? When does education become a cause of social mobilization? Do the poor receive a different form of education?

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Educational Attainment and Early Occupational Trajectories of Youth in Mexico City

Conference Paper to be presented by Patricio Solís

Patricio Solís is a Research Professor at the Center for Sociological Studies, El Colegio de México. His focus is on social stratification, social mobility, and educational inequality in Mexico and Latin America. Currently he is finishing a co-edited book that summarizes the results of an international project aimed to analyze intergenerational class mobility patterns in six Latin American countries.

Recent research in Mexico shows that the risk of job precarization is significantly higher among youth. This situation has exacerbated after the economic recession of 2008-09. On the other hand, educational research indicates that the returns on education have decreased, thus increasing labor market vulnerability among the most educated, who used to have secured access to top-level occupations. These trends might suggest that labor market hardship has emerged as a widespread phenomenon among Mexican youth, blurring traditional markers of inequality, such as socioeconomic background and educational attainment. But is this actually the case?

In my presentation, I will discuss the results of recent research in which I analyze the early occupational trajectories of youth in Mexico City. I focus on the effects of educational attainment (controlling for socioeconomic background and family events) on three occupational transitions: entry into the labor force, job shifts, and reentries into the labor force. Using event history analysis, I devote special attention to the competing risks of entering into service-class positions, intermediary occupations, and what I define as “low-quality” occupations.

As earlier research has suggested, my results confirm that many young Mexicans initiate their occupational lives in “low-quality” occupations, and many stay there in subsequent job shifts/reentries. Also, risks of labor disqualification are significantly high among those with higher education. However, the labor market advantages of higher education are still important, particularly because it protects against spending the early stages of the occupational career in low-quality positions.

Thus, in a context of generalized labor market deterioration and precarization, as found in urban Mexico, higher education is no longer a guarantee for successful integration in the labor market. However, it still provides important comparative advantages to those who are able to make it to college. Therefore, social stratification studies should remain interested in the multiple ways in which educational inequality, and particularly inequality in access to higher education, is constructed.

Policies to Promote Social Inclusion and Equality in Higher Education Institutions in Latin America

Conference Paper to be presented by Martha Zapata Galindo

Martha Zapata Galindo is a Lecturer and Researcher at the Institute for Latin American Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research interests include social inclusion and higher education, intersectionality and feminist theory, social movements, women’s and feminist movements, democratization and intellectual processes in Latin America and the circulation of knowledge.

Social inclusion, equality, and diversity programs have not always been a priority in universities in Latin America. Recent analysis of the current situation and trends in higher education show various types of inequalities. Those that stand out in the social and urban areas are inequalities of gender, ethnicity and race, and income. The various strategies for social inclusion and equality that were developed in recent years, regionally and on a local level and with the support of public policies and actions, have resulted in substantial changes in university enrollment and the composition of its various populations. Among the many measures introduced to combat social exclusion in the higher education institutions of Latin America, along with projects for gender mainstreaming and scholarship programs for low-income groups in different higher education institutions of Latin American countries (Argentina Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Uruguay), the most noteworthy have been models that promote the inclusion of Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples, as have been implemented in Brazil, Colombia and Peru, to name a few. Despite the heterogeneity that characterizes Latin America, the range of coverage in higher education and college enrollment itself varies significantly between the different countries.  There is precise data about certain groups of recipients, for example the process of the feminization of the student enrollment in higher education in virtually all Latin American countries. However, regarding ethnic diversity – the strong presence of indigenous and Afro-descendants in many Latin American countries who have been historically marginalized in accessing education – and special-needs populations and different types of disabilities, we cannot count on the existence of reliable, comparable and up-to-date data. Continue reading

Gender, Caste and Higher Education: Pathways and Experiences of Dalit Women in an Elite College in Delhi

Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Meenakshi Gautam.

Meenakshi Gautam is currently pursuing a Ph.D. from Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She is especially interested in gender and its relation to higher education.

The participation of both men and women in higher education in India has rapidly expanded over the past six decades. There has been steady educational progress among socio-economically disadvantaged and culturally marginalised groups such as SC (Scheduled Caste) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) as well. However, the representation of these groups in higher education is relatively small in comparison to their proportion of population (Rao, 2002; Deshpande, 2006; Chanana, 2012; Weisskopf, 2004). Women belonging to scheduled castes are among the most disadvantaged in relation to their access to higher education (Chanana, 2012; Raju, 2008; Rao, 2002). There is hardly any research on the groups such as SC (or dalit) women who suffer multiple disadvantages resulting from the intersection of caste, class and gender. The intersection of gender with caste and class is likely to lead to diverse pathways and experiences in higher education for dalit women. The present research work aims: a) to map the pathways of dalit women in higher education, b) to explore the pathways of selected women students’ male sibling(s) vis-à-vis participant, and c) to understand the experiences of dalit women within the university.

The study is informed by the intersectionality framework which problematises the intermeshing of structures of inequality (such as caste, race, gender and patriarchy) and analyses them within specific socio-historical contexts (Collins, 2004; Ramirez, 2013). In the Indian context, scholars have observed that the interlocking of class, caste and gender is likely to have a cumulative effect on access to and participation in education (Velaskar, 2007; Chanana, 2007; Paik, 2009). In order to study the experiences of Dalit women, many of whom are first generation in higher education, it becomes important to link their “individual histories” with their “familial habitus” (Reay, et.al. 2005), access to valued “cultural capital” (Bourdieu, 1977) and the challenging and unfamiliar “institutional habitus” of the university (Reay, et.al. 2005).

The methodology is informed by the intersectionality framework and adopts life-history methodology to understand the pathways and experiences of dalit women’s students. It situates the in-depth account of their personal lives within a socio-cultural context (Mwangi, 2009).

Who Studies What, Where and Why? Systemic Inequalities beyond Affirmative Action Policies in Indian Higher Education

Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by V. Kalyan Shankar.

V. Kalyan Shankar is ICSSR Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Economics, University of Pune (India). His doctoral research was based on the emergence and deepening of inter-country value-addition chains among select Southeast Asian economies.

In the delivery systems of higher education in India, there has been an attempt to counter social inequalities through implementing a system of affirmative action policies – implying positive discrimination – in favor of the disadvantaged. Lack of access to education is posited as a problem of those left out from the delivery systems, of inadequate representation and participation of certain social groups. The state intervention in countering underrepresentation has been through the constitutional provisions for reservations. The debates surrounding reservations and their implementation have been fought on several turfs. In addition to the more conspicuous divide of affirmative action versus meritocracy, academic enquiries have probed into reservations on caste versus class grounds, on the need for expanding the umbrella of reservations to a wider segment of the society and more recently, on the inadequacy and irrelevance of affirmative action once the turf changes from academics to employment.

Even as these debates are running their course, what about the delivery systems of education, the terrain on which the edifice of reservations is built? While socio-economic backgrounds do influence individual participation in education, can differentiated access to education be attributed solely to them? Can the systems be really termed fair in their attempt at creating equality of access? It needs to be recognized that the systems themselves generate their own set of embodied institutional distortions that get superimposed over and above socio-economic inequalities. This project seeks to explore the systemic dimensions of inequality in Indian education. This work has been centered on the distortions resulting from structural overlaps in the delivery systems and the restriction of choices in higher education based on the medium of instruction in schooling.

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Higher Education and Profit Logic in the Education System. Social Consequences of the Expansion of Low-cost-private-universities in Peru

Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Carmela Chávez.

Carmela Chávez is a researcher at the Pontificia Universidad Catòlica del Peru (PUCP) and is currently pursuing a PhD in sociology. She is interested in the relationship between state and society and the development of citizenship, particularly in Peru’s post-conflict context of democratic consolidation.


Education Protests (photo: Quetzal-Leipzig.de)

This project explores the changes in higher education in Peru since the neoliberal economic reforms during the nineties, especially in the offer of low-cost-private universities. My hypothesis is that those changes, related with organizational and academic changes, have been part of a bigger social change in which either university students or investors are part of a new social middle class that values higher education as a private good for social mobility. Because of that, all the university system has changed and a new institutionalism has arrived related with education. These new universities have developed in a completely different way to traditional universities and have created new institutional models in terms of organization-administration, the organization of the academic community and mechanisms for student participation within the university community.

Over the last 20 years, the major change to have affected Peruvian universities has been the rise and dominance of the private university. Today, in 2014, there are 140 universities in Peru, out of which 64% are private universities and more than half are profit driven. The majority of these are run as businesses and cost less to attend than their traditional counterparts. They are profit making universities that are being set up and promoted by the so called new educational businesses (who often own other pre-school centers, schools, technical colleges, etc.), important national and international corporations and even political leaders from national political parties.

There is a new type of university student who have high expectations for achieving social ascendency via higher education, but limited capacities for competing at an academic level and social restrictions (higher standards required in entrance exams, agreements signed with first class schools, language proficiency as a prerequisite for completing studies, etc.) which, in turn, means low cost, private universities bring down their standards of quality to allow for the admission and continuation of their university students. However, there are serious doubts about the quality of this higher education and the medium-term consequences of this in terms of how these new professionals will then access a labor market that is constantly more and more competitive and demanding. Within this context, it is important to study the transformation of the private university as a key institution for preparing new generations of young professionals and for developing a new type of educational institution. Underlying this question is the debate over whether or not higher education is a public good or a private exchangeable good.


Educational Governance and Inequality in Higher Education: The Case of the University for Development Studies (UDS) in Ghana

Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Jane-Frances Lobnibe.

Jane-Frances Lobnibe is a lecturer at the University for Development Studies, Ghana. Her research interests center on globalization and international education, diversity and social justice, gender relations, ecofeminism and sustainability.

In 1992, the University for Development Studies (UDS) was established with a mandate to increase higher education access for students in deprived rural regions of the country and northern Ghana in particular. As the first higher educational institution in the northern part of the country, the siting of the university campuses in three regions of northern Ghana serves in part to address the structural inequalities brought about by both colonial and post-colonial development policies as well as helps to address issues of access and affordability to bridge the human development gap between northern Ghana and the rest of the country. After twenty years of its existence, how far has this pro poor university fulfilled the socio-economic and equity imperatives of the four northernmost regions? This question needs to be addressed  in the context of contemporary research on structural inequalities in higher education that concentrate on conceptualizations that locate the politics of governance in processes that include or exclude certain groups from participation, representation and access  to educational and social practices.

This paper draws on interviews conducted with university administrators, and an analysis of enrollment trends and profiles of the students admitted into programs of two major faculties (school of Medicine and Agriculture) to assess UDS’ role in addressing educational inequality in the country within the framework of national accreditation standards and university policies. It attempts to unearth the silences of UDS governance that include/exclude social actors, perpetuating the very inequality it is purported to address. It will examine the extent to which the potentially equalizing effects of education have been ordered by the national accreditation board and UDS’ governance, and the implications for students enrolling from the deprived regions. The paper contends that the university has paid little attention to issues of access and representation of groups of social actors, but has rather adopted the narratives and production of images and principles that have historically been used to exclude the very groups from higher education participation for which it was established. It further argues that attempts to correct inequalities in higher education created by British colonial and post-colonial development policies cannot be done without engaging and confronting the very mechanisms and structures that have created the divide. To live up to its mandate UDS will have to rethink its governance principles as well as the narratives and images that are used to qualify or disqualify specific individuals from entrance.


Social Origin and Inequality of Opportunities in Colombia: Analysis of Educational Achievement and Occupational Attainment among University Graduates

Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Andrea Cuenca Hernández.

Andrea Cuenca is a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Education, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In her dissertation, she examines how socio-demographic factors, institutions and contexts influence educational achievement and occupational success.

This doctoral project analyzes the impact of social origins (SO) on educational achievement and occupational attainment of higher education (HE) graduates in Colombia. The questions addressed are: to what extent and through what mechanisms do SO determine the educational outcomes of individuals in the completion of a first university degree and the attendance of postgraduate education? To what extent and through what mechanisms do SO determine the occupation destination of graduates? And more generally, is the Colombian educational system contributing to equalize opportunities among individuals or reinforcing the inequalities associated to SO?

The research design consists of two main parts: (1) a statistical analysis of large existing datasets from the national information systems at the secondary and tertiary education levels, and; (2) of primary data collected from an online graduate survey. The first method allows capturing an overall scenario, by identifying the trajectories of university graduates (n=16,892) since the last year of school until their entrance into the world of work. The second part provides a deeper analysis on the explanatory mechanisms lying behind the reproduction of inequality of opportunities among a sample of this population (n=1,086).

Results from the first part suggest that SO have a significant impact on educational outcomes during secondary school but also at higher educational levels and in the later transition into the world of work. They point out that SO operate directly through socioeconomic status and cultural capital. The effects from the latter are particularly strong on the academic achievement at secondary education. SO also operate indirectly, through the segmentation of educational paths, on the academic quality of the institutions attended, and on income.

Two main complementary interpretations follow form these findings. On one hand, they are in accordance with the reproduction theories: highly-educated families through the parental credentials along with their economic capital, promote efficient learning environments for their children, who are more likely to reach the same educational level or higher. On the other hand, the mediation of family education between origin and destination suggest that it is also a device for social mobility. In this particular case, the quality of secondary school (strongly affected by parental credentials) is of special importance for later success at the university and the labor market. These findings emphasize the key issue of qualitative inequalities. Providing academic quality at secondary public schools is a way the Colombian educational system could break the existing link between origin and destination. At the HE level, however, while privatization has furthered participation of non-traditional students, it also has reinforced inequalities insofar as quality in private education continues to be a privilege.