This research finds that even in Finland, enrolling in higher education depends on students’ school performance and their parents’ education.
The study uses register data from Finland, where students take entrance exams for higher education and where the education system involves both universities and polytechnics, to look at how social origin and school performance is associated with higher education enrolment.
The study finds that the students whose parents have higher-level educational qualifications are more likely to enrol in higher education despite their previous school performance. Moreover, there were differences between higher education institutions and across school performance distribution. Students with good grades at school were more likely to go to university if their parents had done so too. Students with similar grades but whose parents had lower education were more likely to enrol in polytechnics.
Students with lower grades but with highly-educated parents were likely to enrol in polytechnics. Students with lower grades and less-educated parents were not likely to get into higher education at all.
This indicates that polytechnics provide access for poorly performing students from higher social origins. Polytechnic education also attracts well-performing students from lower social origins which leads to a situation in which well-performing students with higher social origins have a substantially larger probability of enrolling in university compared to well-performing students with lower social origins.
Thus, dual higher education systems stratify well-performing students into lower- and higher-tier institutions according to their social origin. In addition, lower-threshold institutions provide access for poorly performing students from higher social origins.
Read more (in Finnish) at INVEST blog: Kahden korkeakoulun malli eriyttää oppilaita perhetaustan perusteella