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Pathways to and within Higher Education for youths of immigrant backgrounds

Abstract : This presentation looks first at the access to higher education of immigrant youths and particularly through which tracks in secondary education. It then shows the choice of type of institution and field of study (vertical and horizontal differentiation) made by these youths once in higher education, as well as to what extent they succeed in obtaining a higher education diploma. The presentation focuses on comparative research across European countries as well as outside Europe (e.g. Canada), taking into account country contexts and the organization of the educational systems both in secondary and higher education. Moreover, differences between country of origin, generation and gender are highlighted, as well as the importance of social background and the schooling experience in secondary education. The findings show that in line with existing research on secondary education, access to higher education is generally lower for immigrant youths within tracked secondary education systems, and particularly for example for youths of Turkish, Former Yugoslavian and Portuguese backgrounds (compared to native youths and those of other immigrant origins). The access in turn is much higher in comprehensive systems and for youths from South, East and South-East Asia. Moreover, immigrant youths are often less likely to access higher education via the academic track and use more frequently alternative routes, such as vocational tracks. These differences in access and pathways to higher education between immigrant and native youths can be explained to a high degree by social and schooling factors. Indeed, immigrant youths access higher education, including via the academic track, to at least the same level of native youths once these factors are taken into account. This can illustrate higher educational aspirations (secondary effects) for these youths. These higher aspirations can be seen also in the choice of 1st tier types of institution and field of study within higher education for various immigrant youths. Finally, looking at the end of the process in terms of obtaining a higher education diploma, it appears that there are less inequalities for immigrant youths for higher education than for within secondary education. However, if the analysis looks at the experience of immigrant youths once they are in higher education, the findings show that immigrant youths have a tendency to have lower study success than natives. This could be explained by a possible mismatch between study choices in higher education and previous schooling in secondary education, as well as academic factors within higher education.
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Contributor : Bertille Theurel <>
Submitted on : Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 4:56:09 PM
Last modification on : Friday, January 24, 2020 - 1:35:49 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02453251, version 1



Jake Murdoch. Pathways to and within Higher Education for youths of immigrant backgrounds. Immigrant Integration: Educational Opportunities and Life Chances, Jun 2019, Monte Verità, Switzerland. ⟨halshs-02453251⟩



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