Économie et Statistique n° 410 - 2007 Access to Higher Education in France: Genuine but limited Democratisation - Education and Social Mobility: The Paradox of the 1960s Generation - Employment Quality in Europe: A comparative and dynamic Approach.
Access to Higher Education in France: Genuine but limited Democratisation
The slow, and now concluded, democratisation of the school system is also under way in higher education. However, the rapid opening-up of the higher sector since the early 1980s and the increasing range of courses on offer, particularly the development of short vocational courses, lead us to reconsider the issue of reducing social inequalities of access to schooling. The reality of this democratisation is contested on two counts. On the one hand, it is suggested that it mainly concerns short higher education programmes, the democratisation movement having had less impact on higher qualifications. On the other hand, it is possible that inequalities have taken on a different form and now concern the nature of the course attended. Compiling the Employment surveys from 1990 to 2002 allows us to study closely the changing link between social background and qualifications. The opening-up of higher education has not been accompanied by a slowdown in democratisation, at any level of qualification. What is more, the democratisation process has been equally far-ranging at the different levels of qualifications. However, it has been less marked than at Baccalaureate level. Measured at a constant level of selection in order to eliminate any devaluation of educational qualifications, the falling level of social selectiveness in higher education becomes clearer still. Democratisation in this sector remains limited, however. For girls, the period of rapid growth in higher education went hand in hand with increasing social polarisation in the different subject areas. Polarisation in medicine and law, already marked, increased still further. Social polarisation in courses chosen by boys, meanwhile, seems to have remained fairly constant over the generations.