Competition and diversification in higher education: Analysing impacts on access and equity in the case of Portugal

TítuloCompetition and diversification in higher education: Analysing impacts on access and equity in the case of Portugal
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsTeixeira, PN, Silva, PLuís, Sá, C, Biscaia, R
JournalEuropean Journal of Education

In recent decades, higher education has experienced a massive expansion worldwide, which has often been linked to increasing higher education diversification. New sectors and new types of institutions emerged with this massification process to offer more diversified types of advanced training. At the same time, this expansion was often embedded in a political economy that increasingly favoured market forces, leading to growing privatisation and competition in the higher education sector. This article explores the relevance of institutional diversification and competition in higher education for access and equity in Portugal. The case of higher education in Portugal is particularly interesting since Portugal has a diverse system both in secondary education and in higher education, with significant vocational and private sectors at both levels (besides the more common academic and university tracks and public institutions). We analyse the profile of new cohorts of entrants by sector (public vs. private higher education institutions) and fields of study. Our results suggest that private secondary schools provide an advantageous track for accessing higher education, especially to prestigious programmes and institutions to which students compete to access. The analysis also indicates that socioeconomic background is a very relevant factor for access to higher education. Although students whose parents do not have a higher education degree may enrol in higher education, those whose parents have higher levels of educational attainment tend to enrol in more prestigious programmes and institutions, to which access is more competitive.


© CIPES 2019