Monday, July 19, 2010

Free university does not improve achievement equality

There are a lot of notions floating among education professionals that are actually wrong, and this has done a lot of harm as to how policies are set and how budgets are spent. The prime examples are that every classroom needs a computer, that smaller class sizes are better, or that the poor benefit more than the rich from subsidized college education. In the latter case, the underlying issue is that rich kids tend to get education for a much longer time than poor ones, and thus they benefit more from the subsidy, even after accounting for the taxes their parents pay. But would free college tuition at least enhance the accessibility of college for poor families.

Not even, claims Kevin Denny, who uses a natural experiment in Ireland, where university tuition was abolished in 1996. The explicit goal of the policy was to create more equality in access to university. Its consequence, though, to remove the small advantage lower incomes had, as they enjoyed asset-tested education grants that were abolished. In other words, the big winner was the middle class. The real equality of access problem originates much earlier than at entry into university. Lower class children have much weaker achievements in school, They need support all the way to pre-school, not university.

1 comment:

nisha said...
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