Higher Education

, Volume 70, Issue 6, pp 903–921

University access for disadvantaged children: a comparison across countries



In this paper, we consider whether certain countries are particularly adept (or particularly poor) at getting children from disadvantaged homes to study for a bachelor’s degree. A series of university access models are estimated for four English-speaking countries (England, Canada, Australia and the USA), which include controls for comparable measures of academic achievement at age 15. Our results suggest that socioeconomic differences in university access are more pronounced in England and Canada than Australia and the USA and that cross-national variation in the socioeconomic gap remains even once we take account of differences in academic achievement. We discuss the implications of our findings for the creation of more socially mobile societies.


University access Educational inequality Social mobility PISA 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Quantitative Social Science, Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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