23 SES 10 D, Elite Education - Taking A Comparative Perspective: Implications For Education Systems Across Europe. (Part 2)
Symposium: continued from 23 SES 09 D
Since 2000, ‘widening participation and access’ schemes have been developed in both France and in England to increase the number of students coming from a working-class background in elite higher education institutions. Drawing on economic sociology as well as Pierre Bourdieu’s relational and comparative approach of elite institutions, this paper explores the consequences of widening participating schemes in two of the most prestigious institutions. Methods/methodology An ethnographic approach was taken to study admissions processes, using participant observation and interviews with examiners in both contexts. Expected outcomes/results The paper will conclude that widening participation had few effects on practices of examiners. While new tools like scholastic tests or using contextual data have been developed, with the aim of limiting social and ethnic bias, these tools remain largely unused by academics involved in admissions. Thus, cognitive skills remain more important than individual social characteristics in examiners’ choices, which are taken into consideration only if the former are proven. Additionally, it is concluded that there is a strong convergence between the French and English systems, despite the fact that that they are often described as specific and strongly embedded in national systems of elite (re) production.
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