Convergence and Diversity, Centres and Peripheries
From System Expansion to System Contraction. Access to Higher Education in Poland
The chapter explores access to higher education in Poland when demand-driven educational expansion is changing into educational contraction driven by demographic factors. It combines a theoretical framework with substantial original data analysis. The empirical evidence comes from educational statistics and statistical demographic projections. Educational expansion in Poland in 1995–2010 is related to four major dimensions: age, gender, sector (public/private) and status (full- and part-time). In addition, a section about access related to the intergenerational social mobility in Poland is based on microdata analysis of the EU SILC dataset (European Union Survey on Income and Living Conditions) – to explore the relative mobility of Polish society in Europe (in terms of educational attainment levels and occupational groups). The chapter contributes to academic discussions in four areas: global comparative research on private higher education (and related public/private dynamics), research on inter-sectoral and intra-sectoral differentiation of higher education, international comparative research on post-communist European higher education systems, and international comparative research on social stratification. The chapter refers to Poland and several post-communist European higher education systems which combine two features: a vast expansion following the fall of communism after 1989 and sharply falling demographics in the next two decades.
Key words: higher education contraction, demographics, equity and access, selectivity, Polish universities
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