Lecture by Dr. Jenny Chesters on Understanding the Persistence of Inequality in Higher Education: Evidence from Australia
3 April 2012
During the latter half of the twentieth century, Australia, like many OECD countries, experienced rapid expansion in participation in higher education which was supported by government through increases in the number of publicly funded university places. However in spite of this expansion, a disproportionately large share of the undergraduate student population is still drawn from higher socio-economic backgrounds. This paper seeks to understand the persistence of inequality in higher education by examining changes in patterns of participation in Australian universities since the 1970s. Using logistic regressions to analyse data collected by three Australian surveys conducted between 1987 and 2005, the authors examine the influence of having a university-educated parent on an individual’s chances of obtaining a higher education degree. They find that although the expansion of higher education has had some impact in terms of reducing inequality, having a university-educated parent continues to exert a direct effect on an individual’s propensity to graduate from university. The paper draws on the theories of Maximally Maintained Inequality and Relative Risk Aversion to interpret institutional and student behaviour. The policy challenges of addressing structural inequality in higher education are also discussed.
Dr. Jenny Chesters is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow with the Faculty of Education at the University of Canberra. She graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences from the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2004 before transferring to the University of Queensland to complete her Honours year. In 2009, she graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy [Sociology] from the University of Queensland. Her research interests include the ongoing relationship between family background and educational attainment, transitions from education to employment and trends in wealth inequality on both a national and a global level.
- Practical information
- 12:30 h
- HIVA-KU Leuven, Parkstraat 47, 3000 Leuven
- Participation is free. Participants can bring their lunch, only drinks will be provided.
- Registration before 26 March 2012: email@example.com