Iakovos Tsiplakides


The increase in participation in higher education in many countries in recent decades and the fact that more people participate in it has not led to a significant reduction in social inequalities. This is because widened access has been accompanied by a differentiated and stratified higher education sector. Students from more privileged socioeconomic backgrounds usually study in prestigious higher education institutions and departments which offer high labour market rewards. By contrast, working class students are overrepresented in lower status institutions and departments. In addition, working class students have lower completion rates than students from middle class backgrounds. In this paper, we examine whether these findings apply in the Greek higher education sector with its unique characteristics. We use official data to examine the relationship between students’ socioeconomic background and allocation in the different university departments. The research findings show that the Greek higher education sector is stratified by social class, since students with a father who is a higher education graduate or come from professional backgrounds usually attend prestigious university departments such as the Medical or the Law School. On the basis of the research findings, we argue that measures should be taken so that all students, regardless of socioeconomic background have educational qualifications that allow them to enroll at their preferred higher education departments, rather than those available to them due to their performance in university entrance examinations.


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widening of participation in higher education, social inequalities


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