Monday, 24 May 2010

Did free fees reduce inequality?

Kevin Denny at the Geary Institute has just posted a very important working paper that highlights the failure of the abolition of university fees to accomplish its primary goal of reducing educational inequality.

Kevin’s broad conclusion is that the abolition effectively amounts to a windfall gain for middle class parents who no longer have to pay fees. The result is that the policy is unintentionally highly regressive.

He also points out that, before the abolition of fees, low-income students received a means tested grant covering both tuition costs and a contribution to their living expenses. The effect of abolition was to actually withdraw the one advantage low income students had relative to high income students.

The author concludes by making some key points. First, he highlights the importance of early interventions in life; and second, he points out that for policies to be successful they must actually target the intended beneficiaries.


Anonymous said...

Laim Smullen

More here check this out.

Budget changes ‘will hit mature student applications’

changes ‘will hit mature student applications’

Anonymous said...

Laim Smullen

I am not sure that the Perception workclass have not Befinted form free third level is Entirely correct because report only deals with
universities and does not deal with
institutes of technology.
Part of the problem the points system
and the low grants system.

Judging form these figures

The socio-economic intake into the universities
Children of agricultural workers accounted for only 0.3pc
children of unskilled workers
semi-skilled for 5.1pc;
skilled manual for 9.9pc;
and non-manual for 9.7pc

The socio-economic intake into the institutes of technology
children of unskilled workers
semi-skilled (8pc)
and skilled manual (15.6pc)
and non- manual (11pc).

Note: The institutes of technology are opposed to fees and they never charged them

The rise in numbers

“But the really big gains in Dublin are in areas with high levels of social disadvantage, where, in some cases, the proportion of 17-19-year-olds at college has more than doubled since 1998.
In the Dublin 1 north inner city, participation has shot up from 8.9pc to 22.8pc, but the Ballyfermot area remains stubbornly low at 11.7pc.”

“The participation rate of students from the semi-skilled and unskilled groups rose from 23pc to 33pc-
40pc, while students from the skilled manual group rose from 32pc 50pc- 60pc. However, the semi-skilled and unskilled manual groups, as well as other non-manual groups, account for a smaller share of new entrants than their share of the population.
There is particular concern about the non-manual groups, such as gardai below the rank of sergeant, prison officers and clerical officers, whose participation rate declined from 29pc to 27pc since 1998”
“* A large increase in participation in Dublin 24 from 26pc to 40c and in Dublin 15 from 40pc to 55pc is probably linked to proximity to Tallaght and Blanchardstown institutes of technology.”

Rory O'Farrell said...

@ Laim

I suspect the cert-diploma-degree route is particularly important for those whose family background is new to 3rd level. It means students need only commit themselves to 1 or 2 years out of the labour force, so its less of a risk than going for a 4 year degree.

However if the ITs never charged fees, would excluding them affect the results? Also the registration fee reverses some of the advantage of free fees.

Michael Burke said...

A similar issue is being discussed here.

If the concern on access is a genuine one, and not simply a cover for increasing fees, then one radical solution is guaranteed places for the top students in each school per each university, college and so on. Removing the bias of privilege, whose effects begin very early (under 2yrs old).

Rory O'Farrell said...

@ Michael Burke

It would be one way. In the UK students from 'top' schools with top marks do as well as students from 'bad' schools with lower marks, when they get to college.

This is as those in the 'top' schools can substitute training for ability. For someone from a poor background to get 500 points they need more talent than someone from a rich background.

Judging from some of the comments on you'd think the paper was the last word on the issue. There are limitations to the data available, and you could raise questions about the methodology (I'm not a big fan of probit models). But it is a working paper, not the finished product, and in fairness to the author he didn't seek to promote it.

Pavement Trauma said...

"In the UK students from 'top' schools with top marks do as well as students from 'bad' schools with lower marks, when they get to college. "

That's a really interesting piece of information Rory. If you have a specific reference for it could you send it on please? Thanks

Rory O'Farrell said...

There is something here on Oxford's selection procedure.

I don't have a better reference to hand, but I'll look for it.

Its a fairly intuitive result though. If someone gets 500 points in a 'bad' school they need more talent than someone who went to a 'good' school.

Rory O'Farrell said...

Here is a (far) better reference.

Rory O'Farrell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Burke said...

But, if pupils from poorer backgrounds and state schools do get to univesity their results are better

This was a large study, 79,000 pupils.

But the Independent Schools Council (the association for fee-paying schools) didn't warm to the results, and called for further studies.

Rory O'Farrell said...

@ Michael Burke

I agree. And its another reason for stopping funding to private schools in Ireland.

Leaving Cert points are just a noisy signal for academic ability. So people in private schools pay for a signal which says they are better, when in fact there ability isn't any better.

Also there are the broader aspects of education. If you go to a normal school you interact with a greater range of people and so on, than if you went to a private school.

Pavement Trauma said...

Thanks for the links.