22 SES 06 A, Student Supervision
Over the past three decades, higher education has expanded considerably in Finland as well as all over the world. Undergraduate education has been part of the “massification” of the university (Trow 1974; 2006), but also the number of post-graduate degrees has grown significantly. During the last twenty years the amount of doctoral students has tripled. Today there are about 19 000 doctoral students in Finnish universities and more than 1700 doctors graduate annually. The significance of doctoral education has increased along with the current HE policy emphasizing international competitiveness, innovation and knowledge production (e.g. Kehm 2007). Finnish doctoral education has recently reformed in order to integrate studies more tightly into universities’ research strategies and profiles as well as to accelerate studies and make them more professional (Academy of Finland 2012).
The expansion of HE in Finland has at least equalized the differences between social groups’ offsprings’ opportunities to continue their studies in higher education. In other words, educational inheritance has decreased. Previous studies have shown that the probability that the highly educated father’s child continues to pursue HE was almost 13-fold compared to the low-educated father’s offspring in Finland in 1980, but in 2000 the probability was only 8-fold (Kivinen & Rinne 1995; Kivinen, Ahola & Hedman 2001; Kivinen, Hedman & Kaipainen 2007).
Internationally taken the Finnish university system can be described quite homogeneous and non-elitist. Nevertheless, the offspring of the most educated and high social status parents are still applying and getting a student place in universities more often than the brood of the less educated parents (Nori 2011; Rinne, Haltia, Nori & Jauhiainen 2008).This seems to be connected with the differences in selectivity between disciplines and study programs. The most prestigious fields, which status has already been established, are attracting the well-off students. Hence, nowadays the socio-economic differences between the groups are to some extent shifted into the university system: differences between the institutions, disciplines and study programs (Nori 201; Kivinen & Rinne 1995; Nevala 2014; Kivinen, Ahola & Hedman 2001). From Bourdieuian perspective academia takes shapes as different kind of and stratified fields into which students come to play and struggle endowed them with varied capitals and habitus gained for their families and previous education and life experiences
(Bourdieu 1996; 1988; see also Reay, Crozier & Clayton, 2009; Wakeling 2005).
Finnish studies concerning HE selection are mainly focused on the Master level and there is hardly any studies about selection of doctoral education. Internationally there are some studies examining the entering to post-graduate level. For example, Mullen et al (2003) indicated with their large data of USA that parents’ educational level was clearly related to entering into doctoral studies after college and this relationship was stronger than in lower levels of HE programs.
Massification of lower levels of education is often followed by segregation of higher levels of education. As the Master’s degree becomes more common, dissociation struggle proceeds to academic postgraduate degrees. Although the education is proved to be inherited, it can be assumed that graduate students are not significantly different from the social origins of universities undergraduate students. In our paper, we are interested in who are the Finnish doctoral students in 2010s. What kind of life-situations and backgrounds do they come from? What kind of differences can be found between them? How do these reflect the hierarchies and segmentations in the field of academia. An interesting question is, whether “the long arm” (see e.g. Rubenson 2007) of the family is extended up to a doctor’s degree.
Academy of Finland, 2012. Towards quality, transparency and predictability in doctoral training. Bourdieu, P. 1988. Homo Academicus. Cambridge: Polity Press. Bourdieu, P. 1996. The State Nobility: Elite Schools in the Field of Power. Cambridge: Polity Press. Kehm, B. 2007. Quo vadis Doctoral Education? New European Approaches in the Context of Global Changes. European Journal of Education 42 (3), 307–319. Kivinen, O., Hedman, J. & Kaipainen, P. 2007. From Elite Universalims to Mass Higher Education. Acta Sociologica 50 (3), 231-248. Kivinen, O, Ahola, S. & Hedman, J. 2001. Expanding Education and Improving Odds. Participation in Higher Education in Finland in the 1980s and 1990s. Acta Sociologica 44 (2), 171-181. Mullen, A.L., Goyette, K.A. & Soares, J.A. 2003. Who Goes to Graduate School? Social and Academic Correlates of Educational Continuation After College. Sociology of Education 2003, Vol. 76 (April), 143-169. 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] Turun yliopiston julkaisuja C:309. Nevala, A. 2014. Changes in society and universities – changes in student background? The background of Finnish university students from World War II to the present day. The Nordic Model at the time of crisis. Nordic Fields of Higher Education Conference, Oslo 8.–9.10.2014. Reay, D., Crozier, G. & Clayton, J. 2009a. 'Fitting in´ or ´standing out´: working-class students in UK higher education. British Educational Research Journal. Rubenson, K. 2007. Participation in Adult Education: The Nordic Welfare State Model. In Rinne, R., Heikkinen, A. & Salo, P. (eds.) Adult Education – Liberty, Fraternity, Equality? Turku: Suomen Kasvatustieteellinen Seura, Kasvatusalan tutkimuksia 28 Trow, M. 2006. Reflections on the Transition from Elite to Mass Universal Access: Forms and Phases of Higher Education in Modern Societes since WW II. In: Forest, J.F., Altbach, P.G. (eds.) 2006. International Handbook of Higher Education, 243–280. Springer International Handbooks of Education, 18. Dordrecht: Springer. Wakeling, P. 2005. La noblesse d’etat anglaise? Social class and progression to postgraduate study. British Journal of Sociology of Education, Vol. 26, No. 4, September 2005, 505-522.
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