ERG SES D 12, Schools and Education
In the 1990s the Swedish school system underwent a major decentralization process and a reorientation of the educational economic structures with implications regarding educational supply and availability, school foundation and educational opportunities. The implementation of free school choice was introduced based on a quasi-market system that included tax-financed independent school providers. A voucher system was used to facilitate this. The hopes expressed were of encouraging efficiency, consumer independence and open choice in the educational sector (Bunar, 2010; Lundahl, 2002). New school national curricula were also introduced for both the compulsory and the upper-secondary school sector.
The transfer of governance through decentralization meant that the local authorities (municipalities), instead of the state, had main responsibility for the Swedish schools, although the state remained responsible for evaluation of education through national testing, quality evaluations and school inspections (Nytell, 2006). Equal opportunities rather than equal outcomes in education have been emphasized in the market debate. However, research indicates that equity difficulties have emerged by various means. One of these is through private providers seem to have an inclination to establish schools in high-income areas (Viberg and Wolkmar, 2014), another is that students express a lack of information regarding school options (Lidström et al, 2014) and a third is quasi-market failure where demands for new schools are low (rural contexts) (Kähkönen, 2007). Independent schools are concentrated in the larger cities and are absent in rural areas. For instance, in 2012 45 % of upper secondary students in Malmö and Gothenburg attended an independent school whilst in Stockholm it was around 53 %. Only every tenth student in rural areas attended an independent school (Arreman & Holm, 2011; Lundahl et al, 2014).
Another aspect of classic quasi market failure is a decreasing number of providers as the markets concentrate, which often forms a risk when implementing competition in public sectors (Kähkönen, 2004). This is noteworthy in Sweden where data for 2009 show that 79 % of all independent schools were owned by large companies with a dominance of ownership by ten specific providers (Arreman & Holm, 2011). In recent years company acquisitions amongst private providers in Sweden have led to further concentration of ownership for larger corporate groups, the largest being AcadeMedia with 60 000 students in 2012 (Lundahl et al, 2014). Investigating consequences of market led reforms over time will be vital contributions in a European context where several countries have implemented similar reforms in various degrees and an essential contribution in general to the global debate on effectiveness, choice and competition in educational sectors.
Using a model, which demarcates the spatial patterns of the Swedish quasi-markets (Fjellman, Yang-Hansen, 2014); National agency of Education, 2011), the aim of the present study is to investigate educational opportunities and uncover changes in supply and demand over time. Based on above the main questions the focus will be on: 1) how has the establishment of new schools changed over time across municipalities and school markets? 2) how has educational availability changed over time across municipalities and school markets?
Arreman Erixon, I., Holm, A-S. (2011) ‘Privatisation of public education? The emergence of independent upper secondary schools in Sweden’, Journal of Education Policy, Vol 26. No. 2, pp. 225-243. Bunar, Nihad (2010) ‘Choosing for quality or inequality: current perspectives on the implementation of school choice policy in Sweden’. Journal of Educational Policy, Vol 25, No. 2, pp. 1-18. Fjellman, A-M., Yang-Hansen, K. (2014) Changes in upper secondary school market geography in Sweden between 1994 and 2013. Paper presented at the ECER conference 2014 in Porto, Portugal, Sep 2-5. Kähkonen, L. (2004) ‘Quasi-markets, Competition and Market Failure in Local GovernmentServices’. Kommunal ekonomi och politik , Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 31–47. Kähkonen, L. (2007) ‘Limitations to Creating and Options for Maintaining Local Quasi-markets’.Kommunal ekonomi och politik , Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 7–28 Lidström, L., Holm, A., Lundström, U. (2014) ‘Maximising Opportunity and Minimising Risk?: Young People’s Upper Secondary School Choices in Swedish Quasi-markets’, Young, Vol. 22, pp. 1-20. Lundahl, L. (2002) Sweden: decentralization, deregulation, quasi-markets - and then what?, Journal of Education Policy, Vol. 17, No. 6, pp. 687-697 Lundahl, L., Arreman, I-E., Holm, A-S., Lundström, U. (2014) Gymnasiet som marknad. Borea Förlag. Stockholm. Nytell, H. (2006): Från kvalitetsidé till kvalitetsregim. Om statlig styrning av skolan.Uppsala Studies in Education No 114. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. National Agency of Education (2011) / Skolverket (2011). Skolmarknadens geografi: Om gymnasieelevers pendling på lokala och regionala skolmarknader. Stockholm: Skolverket. Volckmar, N and Wiborg, S (2014) A Social Democratic Response to Market-Led Education Policies: Concession or Rejection? In: U. Blossing et al. (eds.), The Nordic Education Model: ‘A School for All’ 117 Encounters Neo-Liberal Policy, Policy Implications of Research in Education 1, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-7125-3_7, © Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014
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