The Economic and Distributional Implications of Current Policies on Higher Education
The British government's policy towards expanding higher education is based on two beliefs--that it is necessary for an improvement of economic performance, and that it can increase access to better jobs by those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. This article examines these two beliefs. The evidence on the economic impact of and demand for more graduates is ambiguous and contradictory. Meanwhile, the rest of the vocational and education system is likely to suffer damage as a consequence of the expansion of higher education, which is important in an economy where there remain many jobs with educational requirements below degree level. It is doubtful whether higher education is an effective or efficient means of meeting such demand. Given the present social-class composition of higher-education entry, there is a danger that further expansion, unless accompanied by a fundamental redistribution of access opportunities, will lead to a decline in social mobility. At the same time, the range of labour-market opportunities for those without degrees may get worse. Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.
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