22 SES 11 B, Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Education Settings
The European Union strategy EUROPE 2020 declares a target of at least 40% of 30-34 year-olds completing third level education. This is just a declaration of a broader trend, when all the most developed countries are increasing their access to higher education (HE). Literature identifies various factors of change in the structure of demand towards a more skilled, starting with the most influential concepts of skill biased technological change, skill biased organizational change, or the effects of international trade. Based on the variety of the factors, this paper tries to question the relevance of supra national educational policy recommendations such as the one from EUROPE 2020.
The expansion of tertiary education can be observed internationally in all most advanced European countries. With the only exception of Hungary, the OECD entry rates into tertiary education are growing in all OECD countries. This is partially also due to a European wide recommendations of the European Commission. On the other hand, the pace and the context of this expansion differ internationally. One of the parameters of internationally different context is the value of education and its change depending on the year of graduating.
Using the Mincerian methodology private returns to education allows us to compare the average bonus paid on the labour market to those who have finished tertiary education. Furthermore, this can be compared between individuals with different years of graduation. Our question is whether the intensity of tertiary education expansion in the country has influenced the patterns in private returns to tertiary education based on the “age” of education, measured by the year of graduation. The comparison will be made between Germany, presenting an example of a country with continuous, steady and slow tertiary education expansion, and Slovakia and Poland presenting countries with dramatic increase in tertiary education accessibility only in the last 15 years. This comparison will be complemented by other EU country experiences, such as Austria, or Italy.
The hypothesis is that in countries with continuous tertiary education expansion, the value of education measured by private returns to education decreases for “older” education - those graduating earlier. This pattern may be deformed in countries with dramatic tertiary education expansion such as Slovakia or Poland.
In those countries central planning before 1989 held the accessibility of tertiary education down, because of ideological reasons. In contrast, during the Nineties they made it into the top countries with the highest increase in tertiary education accessibility during last 20 years. This development has increased existing differences in tertiary education accessibility between generations. In contrast to the experience of these countries, we can put the experience of Germany or Spain where only a marginal tertiary education expansion can be observed.
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