22 SES 02 D, Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Education Settings
Access to higher education and the limitations constructed by the economic capital embedded in the process have been widely discussed in the international research literature (Callender & Jackson 2005; Darcy-Koechlin & van Zanten 2005; Duru-Bellat et al. 2008; Power et al. 1999; Reay et al. 2005; Wakeling & Jefferey 2013), along with the connection to social and spatial mobility (Savage 1988; Belfield & Morris 1999). Reproduction and social distinctions are the core question of the admission process to higher education. Reproduction in the transition is also interconnected with cultural and social capital which, together with economic capital, may create a space for social and educational reproduction (see Bourdieu 1998, Bourdieu & Passeron 1990). The inequalities of admission to higher education in the Finnish context have been previously studied in terms of the social backgrounds of admitted students (Nori 2011). However, further analysis of the institutional mediators (e.g. preparatory courses) of the admission process is needed.
In Finland, universities are responsible for setting the university student selection criteria (Universities Act 2009). Therefore, comparing the selection practices between higher education institutions and subject fields is difficult. In general, the principal track to university studies is determined by one’s results on the entrance examination, the matriculation examination, or a combination of the two. However, other selection channels include quotas for transfer students, students without the matriculation examination, mature students and foreign students. (Study Guide to University of Turku 2014.)
The university student selection system is undergoing a major reform. An underlying idea in the admission process is the principle of equity (Universities Act 2009). However, the central aims of the reform are securing the position of young matriculated students and speeding up students’ transition from secondary to tertiary education (MoE 2010). Nevertheless, it is also stated that it should not be unreasonably difficult for those, who are not first-timers, to gain a study position. (Universities Act 2009 [482/2013].) Changes in the student selection practices may potentially be altering the context within which the preparatory course-market operates. When the competition among young applicants accelerates, the popularity of the preparatory courses might also increase. However, contradictory tendencies might also emerge, given that universities have also decided to give more importance to performance on the matriculation examination (MoE 2010).
Currently, there are only a few preparatory course providers who offer a range of courses, from self-study materials to face-to-face tutoring in diverse disciplines. In the Finnish media during the 21st century, the topic of preparation courses in relation to tuition-free higher education has arisen regularly. In 2005 it was reported (Ylioppilaslehti 2005) in the media that 99% of the freshmen had used a tuition-based preparation course of some kind prior to applying for the law school of the University of Helsinki. By contrast, the University of Helsinki (2013) officially states that the preparation courses are private business, which the university does not want to support. As a reaction to increasing course-fees and the overall disequalising effects of the system, in the year 2013 a non-profit organization, Varjovalmennus, started to organize a free-of-charge course for potential students. The market for preparation courses for admission to Finnish higher education is thus strong but currently changing due to increasingly differentiated provision. Therefore, the research questions in this study are:
- How is the Finnish preparation course market constructed regarding the versatility of its provision?
- What kind of an interconnection is built between the market and the resources required from the applicants, and how is this relationship connected to educational inequalities?
Belfield, C. & Morris, Z. (1999) Regional migration to and from higher education: scale determinants and outcomes, Higher Education Quarterly, 53(3), 240– 263. Bourdieu P. (1998). State Nobility. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press Bourdieu P & Passeron C. (1990). Reproduction in Education, Society, and Culture. New York: Sage Callender, C. & Jackson, J. (2005) Does fear of debt deter students from higher education? Journal of Social Policy, 34(4), 509–540. Darchy-Koechlin, B. & van Zanten, A. (2005). « Introduction. La formation des élites », Revue internationale d’éducation de Sèvres [En ligne], 39 | septembre 2005, mis en ligne le 17 novembre 2011, consulté le 18 octobre 2012. Duru-Bellat, M., Kieffer, A. & Reimer, D. (2008) Patterns of social inequalities in access to higher education in France and Germany, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 49(4–5), 347–368. MoE (2010). Ei paikoillanne, vaan valmiit, hep! [Not steady, but ready, go!; in Finnish] http://www.minedu.fi/export/sites/default/OPM/Julkaisut/2010/liitteet/tr11.pdf ?lang=fi. Ministry of Education, Finland. Nori, H. (2011). Keille yliopiston portit avautuvat? Tutkimus suomalaisiin yliopistoihin ja eri tieteenaloille valikoitumisesta 2000-luvun alussa [For whom will the university gates open? A study of the selection for admission to Finnish universities and fields of study in the beginning of the 21st century; in Finnish]. Turun yliopiston julkaisuja C 309. Power, S., Whitty, G., Edwards, T. and Wigfall, V. (1999). Destined for Success? Educational biographies of academically able pupils, Research Papers in Education 14 (3), 321–339. Reay, D., David, M. E. & Ball, S. J. 2005. Degrees of choice. social class, race and gender in higher education (Stoke-on-Trent, Trentham Books). Savage, M. 1988. The missing link? The Relationship Between Spatial Mobility and Social Mobility. The British Journal of Sociology XXXIX (4), 554–577. Study Guide to University of Turku 2014. (in Finnish). http://www.utu.fi/fi/Opiskelu/haeopiskelijaksi/Documents/valintaopas2014.pdf. Universities Act 2009. 558/2009. University of Helsinki 2013. http://www.helsinki.fi/opiskelijaksi/valintakokeet.html#Helsingin_yliopiston_ kanta_valmmennuskursseihin Wakeling, P. & Jefferey, K. (2013). The effect of tuition fees on student mobility: the UK and Ireland as a natural experiment. British Educational Research Journal 39 (3), 419–513. Whitty, G. (2001). Education, social class and social exclusion. Journal of Education Policy, 16 (4), 287–295. Ylioppilaslehti 2005. http://ylioppilaslehti.fi/2005/09/valmennuskurssit-portti- oikikseen-ja-laakikseen/
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