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Privileging the Privileged: The Effects of International University Rankings on a Chilean Fellowship Program for Graduate Studies Abroad

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  • Paulina Perez Mejias

    (Center for Advanced Research in Education, Universidad de Chile, Santiago 8330014, Chile)

  • Roxana Chiappa

    (College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA)

  • Carolina Guzmán-Valenzuela

    (Institute of Education and Center for Advanced Research in Education, Universidad de Chile, Santiago 8330014, Chile)

Abstract

In the last few decades, many developing countries have dramatically expanded the number of government-sponsored fellowships for graduate studies abroad to increase their participation in the knowledge economy. To award these grants, these programs have typically relied on international university rankings as their main selection criterion. Existing studies suggest these fellowships have been disproportionally awarded to applicants from privileged social backgrounds, thus intensifying existing national educational inequalities. However, this evidence is mostly anecdotal and descriptive in nature. In this article, we focus on a Chilean fellowship program, an iconic example of these policies. Using a causal path analysis mediation model and relying on social reproduction and stratification theories, we investigated whether the distribution of fellowships varied across applicants from different socioeconomic backgrounds and how university rankings affect applicants’ chances of obtaining the fellowship. Our findings revealed that, in a context of high social inequalities and a stratified education system, using international rankings as an awarding criterion reinforced the position of privilege of individuals who accrued educational advantages in high school, as well as the disadvantages of those less fortunate who faced fewer prior educational opportunities.

Suggested Citation

  • Paulina Perez Mejias & Roxana Chiappa & Carolina Guzmán-Valenzuela, 2018. "Privileging the Privileged: The Effects of International University Rankings on a Chilean Fellowship Program for Graduate Studies Abroad," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 7(12), pages 1-23, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:7:y:2018:i:12:p:243-:d:184803
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Perna, Laura W. & Orosz, Kata & Jumakulov, Zakir, 2015. "Understanding the human capital benefits of a government-funded international scholarship program: An exploration of Kazakhstan's Bolashak program," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 85-97.
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