Rich privileged kids in the US and the UK have better access to and higher chances at getting accepted in universities than kids from poorer backgrounds. There is a widening gap between the rich and the poor as evident in the higher education system. Universities are becoming more reliant on the inequality in the system and have recently been enforcing class inequalities between the classes rather than equalizing them. A study has found that high-achieving low-income students do not have access to selective schools. Rich kids are several times more likely to go to university than those from underprivileged backgrounds.Unfortunately, most low-income students don’t see the point in even attempt to apply to the elite universities and colleges for which they are actually qualified.
Why is it happening? The problem is not so much a social one as it is an economical and a structural problem. Here is the problem. Elite universities and colleges don’t accept low-income students because it means they need to change their current business model as their finances are simply designed to depend on the enrollment of high income students. Enrolling lower income students would mean compromise at the expense of the university,for example a rise in tuition fees or a change in the school funding system. In other words, universities focus on enrolling more high income students who are assured to pay the full tuition fee.
With more enrollment of high income kids means that there are less seats available to smart kids from poorer backgrounds. Simply put, if given a choice between a rich kid in the 98th percentile and a poor kid in the 99th percentile, universities would rather enroll the former. Sadly, this discrimination between rich kids and poorer kids continues past the university years as better education paves the way to better job opportunities for richer kids.
Public universities are not up to standard as private universities and often suffer from funding cutbacks from states. Education systems got hit hard after the 2008 recession, states are spending 28 % per student than they were before 2008. According to UK statistics, even though more students are enrolling in universities now than before, there has been no improvement in the situation of poorer students. Poorer kids have to make decisions based on what they can afford rather than on their aspirations and dreams. The choices of poorer students are being restricted and their opportunities are being limited making them the losers and the rich kids the winners.
Balqis Hindash, Middlesex University Dubai campus