Institutional Selectivity, Curricular Policy, and Field of Study Stratification in Expanded Higher Education Systems: The Case of Israel

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Abstract

The paper focuses on the contradictory results on the effect of social background on choice of field of study (field stratification) in expanded higher education systems. We predicted that the contradictory results stem from variations in institutional selectivity and curricular policy. Based on two surveys conducted in 1999 (4146 students) and 2014 (7384 students) in the Israeli expanded higher education system, this paper analyzes changes in the ratio of continuing-generation college students in fields of study offered by institutions with varying degrees of selectivity. The results show a decrease in the selectivity of the second-tier institutions in the second analyzed period, accompanied by an increase in field stratification. We suggest that this increase stems from the differential curricular policies of second-tier higher education institutions. In the second period, the second-tier institutions initiated labor market-oriented programs for the less popular fields, thus opening them to first-generation students. In popular and lucrative fields, some of them regulated by professional associations, the second-tier institutions kept to the traditional orientation of the programs, and attracted less qualified continuing-generation students. We discuss the implications of the findings on social stratification.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHigher Education Policy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Expansion of higher education
  • Generation in higher education
  • Horizontal stratification
  • Institutional differentiation;
  • Programs within fields of study

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