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    Elitism and meritocracy in UK universities: the UK needs investment in its labour force

    Simister, John (2011) Elitism and meritocracy in UK universities: the UK needs investment in its labour force. Higher Education Quarterly 65 (2), pp. 113-144. ISSN 0951-5224.

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    This article summarises previous academic research into university education, distinguishing between arguments for and against improving access. Several views are summarised, including structural-functionalism, which claims that powerful social groups maintain their status and income, and human capital theory, which focuses on employee productivity. Almost all viewpoints discussed in this article support meritocracy. UK universities differ in their openness to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many universities, referred to here as ‘inclusive’, deserve credit for encouraging disadvantaged people to become students; in contrast, ‘exclusive’ universities tend to have fewer disadvantaged students than expected. There are barriers facing disadvantaged students, including unequal access to universities, which can at least partly be explained by private schools for rich pupils and financial burdens at university causing some students to take paid work (reducing time available for study). The UK spends less per student on universities than the world average and less than half as much as some European countries. The UK Government could increase university funding, concentrating on universities that are most inclusive and that tend to have the largest problems in affording sufficient staff and teaching facilities. This investment would give long-term benefits to the UK economy.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Business and Law > Birkbeck Business School
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2014 13:55
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:14


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