Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Middle class benefits the most from post-1992 university expansion

28.02.2012
Initiatives by successive governments to provide better access to higher education for young people from less-privileged backgrounds have failed according to Understanding Society, the world's largest longitudinal study. Findings show just a five per cent increase in degrees among children of routine and manual workers.

An analysis of the social backgrounds of almost 34,000 adults between the ages of 22-49, compiled by the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex, reveal that it is the children of the middle classes, and not the working classes, that have benefited the most from the expansion of higher education over the last 15 years.

Using new research from Understanding Society, a longitudinal study of 40,000 UK households, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), researchers examined two age groups within the study. Amongst 37-49 year olds, just over a quarter hold a degree; for the post-expansion generation, 22-34 year olds, over a third of this generation have a first degree – a rise between the two age groups of 8.6 per cent. However, an analysis of the socio-economic background of the respondents – measured as their parent's occupation at age 14 - reveals that this increase is not evenly distributed across social classes. It finds:

For those with parents who held 'managerial and professional' jobs when the respondent was 14, the rise in participation in higher education is 10 per cent

For those with parents who had 'intermediate occupations' (typically clerical and sales jobs or those running small businesses) the increase in the proportion with a degree shown between the two age groups is over 11 per cent

For those whose parents that hold 'routine and manual occupations', the growth in the proportion with a degree is only five per cent.

It is the children of white collar workers that account for the major increase in people attending university in recent years. These are children of school teachers, nurses, administrative grade civil service jobs and high level technicians – jobs which did not require a degree 20 to 30 years ago but which are now regarded as graduate or middle class jobs.

One of the co-authors of the study, Professor Peter Elias, from the University of Warwick, comments: "The findings reflect in part the restructuring of the UK economy over the last 40 years, which has seen a decline in manual occupations and an increase in white collar jobs. Nonetheless, given the remarkable increase in the participation of young people in higher education that has taken place over the last 20 years, the brief analysis presented here reveals little evidence that the much vaunted policy ambition - to provide better access to higher education to those from less privileged backgrounds - has been successful."

For further information contact

To contact Professor Peter Elias please email Kate Purcell
Email: Kate.Purcell@warwick.ac.uk
Telephone +44 (0)2476 523 288
ESRC Press Office:
Victoria Morrisroe
Email: victoria.morrisroe@esrc.ac.uk
Telephone 01793 413163
Jeanine Woolley
Email: jeanine.woolley@esrc.ac.uk
Telephone 01793 413119
Notes for editors:
1. Peter Elias is a Professor at the Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick. He has acted as the Strategic Advisor for Data Resources to the ESRC since 2004. The findings above are taken from the article 'Higher Education and Social background' from 'Understanding Society: Findings 2012'.

2. Understanding Society is a world leading study of the socio-economic circumstances in 40,000 UK households. The study allows for deeper analysis of a wide range of sections of the population as they respond to regional, national and international change. Understanding Society will greatly enhance our insight into the pathways that influence peoples longer term occupational trajectories; their health and well-being, their financial circumstances and personal relationships. Understanding Society also breaks new ground with its interdisciplinary focus. The study will capture biomedical data on 20,000 participants and place this alongside rich social histories, helping us weigh the extent to which people's environment influences their health. More information is available at www.understandingsociety.org.uk

3. Understanding Society has been commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and is supported by a total of 11 Government departments and administrations. The Research Team is led by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex. The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) delivers the study.

4. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's total budget for 2011/12 is £203 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at www.esrc.ac.uk

Press Office | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.esrc.ac.uk

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>