Between Preconceptions and Reality. Perception of Higher Education for Polish Youth.

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 08:40
Oral Presentation
Anna BACZKO-DOMBI, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Philosophy and Sociology, Institute of Sociology, Poland
Agata KOMENDANT-BRODOWSKA, Institute of Sociology, University of Warsaw, Poland
Over last decades the world has witnessed a tremendous expansion of higher education. Poland has been one of the countries that have undergone a rapid transition from an elitist system, in which only tiny minority of secondary education leavers could pursuit further education, to a massified one that widely broadens the access to tertiary education. The rise in educational attainment is by and large perceived as a positive development, however it has its downsides as well. The increased supply of university graduates has deprived them of their ‘privileged’ status in the labour market, lead to the rise in graduate unemployment rate as well as overskill and overeducation. This has sparked a debate over improving higher education system in order to make graduates more suitable for the labour market by among others steering them towards academic programmes granting better occupational prospects.

High student attrition is another problem of the Polish higher education system. Poland has one of the highest rates of premature departure among OECD countries, which makes the system inefficient for students and higher education institutions. Moreover, it poses unnecessary burden on the public purse as higher education in Poland is in large extent publicly funded. Research suggests that student attrition can be partly attributed to a wrong choice of studies.

Any policy aiming at improving the prospective student’s decision making requires a good understanding of it. That was the goal of several mixed-methods research projects conducted in the last few years, concentrating on such described decision processes of youth from upper secondary schools and students of University of Warsaw, problems associated with their motivation and generally their perception of higher education.