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What did abolishing university fees in Ireland do?

  • Kevin Denny

    (School of Economics and Geary Institute, University College Dublin)

University tuition fees for undergraduates were abolished in Ireland in 1996. This paper examines the effect of this reform on the socio-economic gradient (SES) to determine whether the reform was successful in achieving its objective of promoting educational equality. It finds that the reform clearly did not have that effect. It is also shown that the university/SES gradient can be explained by differential performance at second level which also explains the gap between the sexes. Students from white collar backgrounds do significantly better in their final second level exams than the children of blue-collar workers. The results are very similar to recent findings for the UK. I also find that certain demographic characteristics have large negative effects on school performance i.e. having a disabled or deceased parent. The results show that the effect of SES on school performance is generally stronger for those at the lower end of the conditional distribution of academic attainment.

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/geary/static/publications/workingpapers/gearywp201026.pdf
File Function: First version, 2010
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Paper provided by Geary Institute, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201026.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 20 May 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201026
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