Field of study and students’ Stratification in an expanded system of higher education: The case of Israel

Hanna Ayalon*, Abraham Yogev

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The paper examines the hypothesis that the opportunities that the expansion and diversification of higher education open to members of disadvantaged groups depend on field of study. The study is based on a survey conducted in 1999 on a sample of 4061 Israeli freshmen in the research universities and the academic colleges, which are often perceived as the second tier of higher education. Using multinomial logistic regression we compared socio-demographic characteristics and academic ability of university and college students within seven major fields of study. The main findings are as follows: The colleges increase the relative odds of disadvantaged groups of studying less selective fields, or selective fields that get different curricula and academic degrees at the colleges. College and university students who study the selective fields where both institutional types offer equivalent programmes carry a similar social profile. Control for academic ability does not change that pattern. We conclude that the expansion of higher education in Israel reduces inequality in enrolment mainly in the fields that carry limited social advantages. Our findings are consistent with Lucas's (2001) claim that privileged groups look for qualitative advantages in differentiated educational systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-241
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2005


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