Educational Expansion and the Persistence of Social Inequality Related to Parental Education in Australia

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Jennifer CHESTERS, University of \Canberra, Australia
Since the 1990s, the Australian higher education sector has undergone a series of changes that have resulted in the doubling of the number of universities, a tripling of the number of undergraduate university students and the creation of alternative pathways into university. Access to university is no longer restricted to high performing secondary school graduates and the majority of undergraduate students now enter via alternative pathways. Despite these changes, inequalities continue to exist due to differentiation within the university sector with entry into elite professional degrees and elite universities still highly selective. Effectively Maintained Inequality theory posits that highly-educated parents are able to identify opportunities to secure qualitatively better educational outcomes for their children regardless of the structure of the education system. Using data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) project, I examine trends in university graduation for four cohorts of Australians born between 1948 and 1987. Preliminary findings indicate that the association between having university-educated parents and graduating from university has persisted over time. Furthermore, individuals with at least one university-educated parent were more likely than those with low-educated parents to graduate from an elite university and/or with a higher status degree.