Higher Education

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 369–393 | Cite as

Different but equal? Assessing European dual HE systems

  • Osmo KivinenEmail author
  • Jouni Nurmi


In higher education dual systems, graduates are qualified to apply for jobs in same professional fields along two separated educational routes. The research problem is whether the rival applicants for professional positions are treated equally in the labour market despite their different qualifications. From the graduates point of view, to be equal means to have an opportunity to be employed in accordance with one’s professional skill. Applying European survey data, the article tests to what extent the ‘distribution of work’ between university and non-university graduates seems to be based on educational qualifications or actual competence. Among 4,000 German, Dutch, Finnish, and Swiss graduates primarily in business and administration and engineering, only slight and occasional evidence of ‘status-based recruitment’ was found. All in all, the research suggests that from the view of graduate employment, the European dual HE systems work very much following the principle of ‘different but equal’.


Competence Equality of opportunity Graduate employment Higher education dual systems Labour market selection Occupational status Professional skill Qualification 


  1. Ahola, S. (1997). “Different but equal”—Student expectations and the Finnish dual higher education policy. European Journal of Education, 32(3), 291–302.Google Scholar
  2. Arrow, K. (1973). Higher education as a filter. Journal of Public Economics, 2, 193–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker, G. S. (1993/1963). Human capital—A theoretical and empirical analysis with special reference to education. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Berg, I. (1970). Education and jobs: The great training robbery. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  5. Berggren, C. (2007). Broadening recruitment to higher education through the admission system: Gender and class perspectives. Studies in Higher Education, 32(1), 97–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bills, D. (2004). The sociology of education and work. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  7. Collins, R. (1979). The credential society: A historical sociology of education and stratification. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  8. Dewey, J. (1983/1922). [MW14] Human nature and conduct. In J. A. Boydston (Ed.), The middle works of John Dewey, 1899–1924 (Vol. 14). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Gale, F., Wojan, T., & Olmsted, J. (2002). Skills, flexible manufacturing technology, and work organization. Industrial Relations, 41(1), 48–79.Google Scholar
  10. Kivinen, O. (2002). Higher learning in an age of uncertainty. From postmodern critique to appropriate university practices. In O. Fulton & J. Enders (Eds.), Higher education in a globalizing world—International trends and mutual observations. A Festschrift in honour of Ulrich Teichler. Higher Education Dynamics (Vol. 1, pp. 191–206). AA Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  11. Kivinen, O., & Ahola, S. (1999). Higher education as human risk capital: Reflections on changing labour markets. Higher Education, 38(2), 191–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kivinen, O., & Nurmi, J. (2003). Unifying higher education for different kinds of Europeans. Higher education and work: A comparison of ten countries. Comparative Education, 39(1), 83–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kivinen, O., & Nurmi, J. (2007). Job requirements and competences: Do qualifications matter? In U. Teichler (Ed.), Careers of university graduates. Views, experiences in comparative perspectives (pp. 131–142). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kivinen, O., Hedman, J., & Kaipainen, P. (2007). From elite university to mass higher education—Educational expansion, equality of opportunity and returns to university education. Acta Sociologica, 50(3), 231–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kyvik, S. (2004). Structural changes in higher education systems in Western Europe. Higher Education in Europe, 29(3), 393–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Neave, G. (1992). On Instantly consumable knowledge and Snake oil. European Journal of Education, 27(1/2), 5–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Neave, G. (1996). Higher education in transition: Twenty years on. Higher Education Management, 8(3), 15–24.Google Scholar
  18. Parsons, T. (1951). The social system. London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  19. Parsons, T., & Smelser, N. (1956). Economy and society: A study in the integration of economic and social theory. London: Routledge & Kegan.Google Scholar
  20. Perellon, J.-F. (2003). The creation of a vocational sector in Swiss Higher Education: Balancing trends of system differentiation and integration. European Journal of Education, 38(4), 357–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Perkin, H. (1996). The third revolution. Professional elites in the modern world. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Polanyi, Michel. (1969). Personal knowledge: Towards a post-critical philosophy. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  23. Roemer, J. (2000). Equality of opportunity. In K. Arrow, S. Bowles, & S. Durlauf (Eds.), Meritocracy and economic inequality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Ryle, G. (1984/1949). The concept of mind. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  25. Salas-Velasco, M. (2007). Graduates on the labor market: Formal and informal post-school training investments. Higher Education, 54, 227–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Schultz, T. W. (1961). Investment in human capital. American Economic Review, 51(1), 1–17.Google Scholar
  27. Sen, A. (2000). Merit and justice. In K. Arrow, S. Bowles, & S. Durlauf (Eds.), Meritocracy and economic inequality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Spence, A. M. (1973). Job market signaling. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 87, 355–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Teichler, U. (1988). Changing patterns of the higher education system: The experience of three decades. London: Kingsley.Google Scholar
  30. Teichler, U. (1994). Higher education and employment: Changing conditions for diversified structures of higher education. Higher Education in Europe, 19(4), 51–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Teichler, U. (1999). Research on the relationships between higher education and the world of work: Pas achievements, problems and new challenges. Higher Education, 38(2), 169–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Teichler, U. (2007). Confirming conventional wisdom and contributing to new insights: The results of a comparative study on graduate employment and work. In U. Teichler (Ed.), Careers of university graduates. Views and experiences in comparative perspectives (pp. 265–276). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Young, M. (1958/1979). The rise of the meritocracy 1870–2033: An essay on education and equality. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Unit for the Sociology of Education, RUSEUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

Personalised recommendations