Equity in an educational boom: Lessons from the expansion and marketization of tertiary schooling in Poland
The transformation of Polish economy toward a free market system and related changes on the Polish labour market released the demand for higher education, held for decades at an artificially low level. The impressive increase in enrolment was possible because the Polish government allowed the private sector to establish higher education institutions. This paper demonstrates how the probability of enrolment in tertiary schools evolves for different social groups in Poland over the period of educational boom. It also investigates how the socio-economic status influences the choices between full-time and part-time studies (the latter being of relatively low quality), and the probability of admission to subsidized, free programs versus programs requiring tuition. Between 1994 and 2008 Poland has undoubtedly improved the participation of students with low socio-economic status in the university education. However, if we look at the change in the ratios of enrolment probabilities for different layers of the social strata, we find that the improvement refers to those with low family educational background and living in small settlements, but not to individuals suffering from the low income. Further investigation shows that the policy makers should focus not only on ensuring equal access to tertiary education for the whole social strata, but on allowing the unprivileged groups access to education of acceptable quality.
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