Brotherhood of St Laurence

June 2011 Bibliography pp. 32-34 Appendices pp. 44-52 SCHOOL TO WORK

In most countries, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are under-represented amongst the undergraduate population. One explanation is that they do not see higher education as a realistic goal; that it is 'not for the likes of them'. In this paper, I use the Programme for International Assessment data to investigate whether 15 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to expect to complete university than their advantaged peers. I explore this issue across the OECD nations, though paying particular attention to the US and UK. My results suggest that children from less fortunate families are not as likely to make early plans for university as their affluent peers. Yet the extent to which these findings differ across countries is rather modest, with little evidence to suggest that the UK stands out from other members of the OECD. The US, on the other hand, appears to be a nation where the relationship between socio-economic background and the expectation of completing higher education is comparatively weak.

Disadvantaged childrens low educational expectations.pdf


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