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Higher education

Higher education in England is one of the more successful parts of the education system. It is a key sector of the wider economy and an important contributor to productivity.

Themes relevant to the national agenda include the effects on social mobility of student financing reforms in higher education over the last two decades. Here the increased funding per head has increased enrolments and narrowed the participation gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students, which has, so far, not been offset by later increases in student fees. Nevertheless, gaps in participation and inequality of outcomes persist and our research has covered gender and race gaps in US higher education and the role of affirmative action in accessing prestigious institutions according to social background.

The labour market returns to higher education are also highly unequal. Earnings are affected by the type of qualification obtained: postgraduate qualifications provide higher returns than first degrees and the class of degree and research quality of the university also matter.

Selectivity in education has also contributed to the decline in social mobility.

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