Financing Higher Studies - the Relation Between Economic Resources and Choices in Swedish Higher Education

Monday, July 14, 2014: 6:45 PM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Martin GUSTAVSSON , Stockholm University SCORE, Sweden
Andreas MELLDAHL , Uppsala University, Sweden
How do students in higher education finance their studies and how is this related to their choice of place and field of study? This is the portal question for the presentation.

At the same time as the number of students in higher studies has increased vastly in Sweden during the last twenty years, the economic gaps in the society at large have grown. We know from surveys and examinations that the public student loans – introduced in 1965 – are not sufficient for covering all students expenses, but the knowledge of where in the educational landscape and for which groups of students the loans are particularly meagre (or superfluous) is lacking.

In this presentation, we explore the ‘economic landscape’ of Swedish higher education by first mapping landmark areas, defined by students with different economic situations. We locate both the students with the largest amounts of economic resources (loans, wealth and incomes) and the position of the students with the smallest amounts. How is the public student loan system utilized at these two ends and what function does it seem to serve in the students’ total economy? Second, we relate these economic differences to educational differences. Do the largest concentrations of educational resources (grades, results from aptitude tests, and backgrounds in prestigious educational programs) coincide with where we find large economic resources? Theoretically, we relate economic resources to educational resources – both central forms of capital in Bourdieu’s sociology – and discuss their relative importance for choices and strategies within higher education.

The presentation utilize a dataset from Statistics Sweden on all students in higher education during the last 20 years, including previous educational investments, present educational choices and their own and their parents’ economic and social situation, as well as how they make use of the public study loan system.