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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2005): Education - UK - Higher

Degrees of choice: social class, race and gender in higher education

D. Reay, M. E. David and S. Bell

Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books, 2005

This book provides an account of the overlapping effects of social class, ethnicity and gender on the process of choosing which university to attend. The shift from an elite to a mass system has been accompanied by much political rhetoric about widening access, achievement-for-all and meritocratic equalisation. This book gives a different picture, drawing on qualitative and quantitative data to show that the welcome expansion of higher education has also deepened social stratification, generating new and different inequalities. While gender inequalities have reduced, those of social class remain and are now reinforced by racial inequalities in access. The book links school and family with individual decision-making in a socially informed dynamic.

Financing higher education: answers from the UK

N. Barr and I. Crawford

Abingdon: Routledge, 2005

A modern economy needs a high-quality university system, and needs to make it accessible to everyone who can benefit. Higher education is a key element in national economic performance. But mass higher education is expensive and competes for public funds with pensions and health care - to say nothing of nursery education and schools. This is the dilemma that many countries offering free or subsidised higher education face today. This volume focuses on the UK debate, examining the head on collision between the economic imperative of student loans with regulated market forces and the political imperative of 'free' higher education. The book concentrates on two key elements: the proper design of student loans, and the role of regulated market forces, an area which remains a political minefield in most countries. The book traces those twin elements through the 1990s and into the twenty-first century, culminating in important legislation in 2004.

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