Inequality in Israeli Higher Education: A Multidimensional Perspective Using Administrative Data

Friday, 20 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Yariv FENIGER, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Oded MCDOSSI, Tel Aviv Univeristy, Israel
Hanna AYALON, Tel Aviv University, Israel
The Israeli higher education system has undergone dramatic processes of expansion and diversification since the mid-1990s. This has been mainly due to the establishment of new collegiate institutions and the grant of academic accreditation to the undergraduate programs of the older-established ones. The expansion has increased the number of degree-granting institutions from about 10 to over 55. In order to explore the consequences of these processes for educational inequality in the undergraduate level we created a large dataset based on a representative sample of about 20% of all Israelis born between 1978 and 1981. These individuals were teenagers when their families were sampled in the population census of 1995. By merging additional information on achievement in high school and a national university entrance test, on enrollment in tertiary education and on degree completion we were able to examine vertical (access and completion on time) and horizontal (potential returns in the labor market) gaps, as well as mechanisms that may account for them. The findings indicate that Ashkenazim, the privileged Jewish group, remain the most advantaged regarding enrollment in higher education, but their advantage over other Jewish groups is mainly due to high school tracking and achievement. Among the enrollees, new immigrants from the former Soviet Union have the highest odds of enrolling in the most lucrative academic programs. Israeli Arabs are disadvantaged compared to Jews regarding both the vertical and horizontal dimensions. In addition to the importance of high school processes to the understanding of inequality in higher education, results from binary and ordered logistic regression models highlight the importance of secondary effects in horizontal inequality and institutional characteristics to graduation on time. We conclude by presenting future plans for this project and by discussing our experience with using administrative data for studying educational inequality.