Inequalities of access to higher education. The role of policies, institutions and markets

International Conference on Higher Education - October 8-9, 2015
  • CC BY-NC-ND_by Camille Stromboni on Flickr_Université du Havre-IUT-Amphi-15CC BY-NC-ND_by Camille Stromboni on Flickr_Université du Havre-IUT-Amphi-15


 International Conference
October 8-9, 2015

 room Percheron / room Lavau
Sciences Po, 98 rue de l'Université, 75007 Paris

This conference is a follow-up to the research project “Transition to higher education in France: the role of networks, institutions and markets” funded by LIEPP (Laboratory for the Interdisciplinary Evaluation of Public Policies) in 2013-2015. It intends to create a new dialogue between social science researchers working on inequalities of access to higher education and to foster the development of a comparative perspective on the issue, particularly across European countries.
The contributions describe existing inequalities on the basis of social class, ethnicity, gender and age, and especially how these different factors interact with each other; the focus is, more specifically, on the ways in which policies, institutions and markets influence the shape and extent of access inequalities.


Thursday October 8

9:45 – 10:00
Introduction by Etienne Wasmer co-director of LIEPP and Agnès van Zanten, CNRS Senior Research Professor, Sciences Po/OSC-LIEPP

10:00 – 11:15 Plenary session
Agnès van Zanten (CNRS Senior Research Professor, Sciences Po/OSC-LIEPP) The influence of policies, institutions and markets on access to higher education
Discussion by Patrick Le Galès (CNRS Senior Research Professor, Sciences Po/CEE)

11:15 – 12:45 Thematic sub-sessions
Sub-session I: Institutional barriers to access to higher education
Sub-session II: Access to higher education and social mobility

14:15 – 16:15 Plenary session
Rachel Brooks (Professor of Sociology and Head of the Department of Sociology, University of Surrey) Accessing higher education as a "student-parent": the impact of state policies and institutional practices
Gaële Goastellec (Associate Professor, University of Lausanne) Inequalities of access in the light of macro-social characteristics: a European comparison
Discussion by Christine Musselin (CNRS Senior Research Professor and Scientific Director at Sciences Po)

16:30 – 18:00 Thematic sub-sessions
Sub-session III: Affirmative action policies and their effects
Sub-session IV: The role of institutional and market devices


9:30 –10:45 Plenary session
Laura Perna (James S. Riepe Professor and Founding Executive Director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania) Improving higher education attainment for all students:  lessons from the U.S.
Discussion by Denis Fougère (CNRS Senior Research Professor, Sciences Po/OSC-LIEPP)

11:00 – 12:30 Thematic sub-sessions
Sub-session V: The impact of socio-economic factors and gender on students’ careers in higher education
Sub-session VI: Students’ and institutional perspectives on access to higher education

14:00 – 15:15 Thematic sub-sessions
Sub-session VII: Long-term and recent trends in higher education systems
Sub-session VIII: Higher education institutions’ discourses and strategies

15:30 – 17:30 Plenary session
Mikael Börjesson (Professor of sociology of Education and Culture, Uppsala University, Sweden) Marketisation, access policies and enrolment patterns in Swedish higher education, 1977 to 2015
Marco Pitzalis (Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Interdepartemental Centre of Educational Research, University of Cagliary, Italy) The road to North. Restructuring the university field in Italy: institutions, policies and market
Discussion by Carlo Barone (Professor of Sociology at Sciences Po/OSC)

17:30 – 17:45 Closing address

Full Programme is available here

For those who would like to attend please contact Agnès van Zanten (, as available seatings are very limited.