French higher education towards equal opportunity? [Research paper] by Nicolas Charles


The author graduated from EM Lyon, and now prepares a PhD in Sociology at EHESS.

Whereas social inequalities of access to higher education, in particular to the grandes ecoles, do not diminish anymore, and the need for equal opportunity and justice in higher education becomes more important, numerous higher education institutions, from which the grandes ecoles are very active, decided to launch new politics of affirmative action. All institutions do not have the same issues concerning equal opportunity. Although they are based on socioeconomic criteria, these politics differ by their characteristics, from a basic monitoring of high school students in poor areas to a direct integration of students from socially disadvantaged families. Based on several interviews with people in charge of these politics of affirmative action, the explicit and implicit objectives, the implementation and evaluation issues become more visible. Compared with the rise of inequalities and the opportunities for higher education institutions to change their financing model and the means of recruitment, the politics of affirmative action seem limited. They are still useful and should be generalized to a larger scale in order to be really effective and to create a virtuous circle.

Quote article  Nicolas Charles, « French higher education towards equal opportunity? », 05 february 2008, Alternative Management Observatory (AMO), [Research paper]

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