Equity of access to higher education in the transforming economy. Evidence from Poland
This paper demonstrates how the probability of enrolment in tertiary schools evolves for different social groups in Poland over the period of educational boom and expansion of tertiary schooling institutions. It also investigates how the socio-economic status influences the choices between full-time and part-time studies (the latter being of relatively low quality), and the probability of admission to subsidized, free programs versus programs requiring tuition. Using data from the household survey for the period 1995–2008, we show that the expansion of tertiary schooling in Poland has undoubtedly improved the accessibility of universities for students with low family educational background, low income and residing in smaller towns and rural areas. However, if we look at the relative change in the odds of enrollment for different layers of the social strata, we find that the improvement refers to those with low family educational background and living in small settlements, but not to individuals suffering from the low income. Further investigation shows that the policy makers should focus not only on ensuring equal access to tertiary education for the whole social strata, but on allowing the unprivileged groups access to education of acceptable quality.