Educational Expansion and the Differentiation of Upper Secondary Degrees. Mechanisms of Social Selectivities in the Transition to Higher Education

Research question/goal: 

The project investigated the temporal development of social selectivity in access to tertiary education. As a follow-up study on the MZES-project ‘Social Selectivity in Tertiary Education and Labour Market and Stratification Outcomes’ it focused on the specific role of the central branching point on the way to tertiary education in Germany: the upper secondary degree. In the aftermath of the 1960s, political reforms led to a diversification of institutional pathways to the upper secondary degree. This diversification process was intended to open new possibilities to access higher education for students of underprivileged background. The aim of the project was to conduct the first large scale assessment of the contribution of this institutional diversification process for reducing social inequalities in access to higher education. A special methodological emphasis of the project was devoted to the utilization of official statistics and developing new ways of combining them with survey data.The results of the project reveal that the institutional differentiation of the upper secondary degree, particularly the new pathways in vocational upper secondary education that emerged in the 1970s, attracted more students from less privileged social background and thus contributed to decreasing social selectivity in access to the upper secondary degree. However, the students that attend vocational upper secondary institutions show particularly low transition rates into tertiary education. Hence, the overall conclusion of the project is that the reforms and diversification processes in upper secondary education have been ineffective in reducing social inequalities in access to tertiary education on a large scale.

Fact sheet

2009 to 2012
Data Sources: 
micro-census, official statistics, HIS upper secondary schoo
Geographic Space: