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Revise And Compile For this question you will REVISE and COMPILE the attachments that have been developed and reflect on your experience writing on the top

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Revise And Compile For this question you will REVISE and COMPILE the attachments that have been developed and reflect on your experience writing on the topic. Rework the attachments to make ONE COMBINE work with a new introduction and conclusion. Please make it flow together. Running head: SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC INEQUALITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION 1

Social and Economic Inequality in Higher Education
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Social and Economic Inequality in Higher Education


Higher education has always been viewed as the solution to social and economic inequality. Most individuals tend to have the dream of pursuing higher education in order to land lucrative jobs and live comfortable lives. In Germany, Belgium, Finland, France, and Sweden, among other countries, higher education is free. This helps students from low socio-economic backgrounds to attend universities and colleges. Countries with programs for free tuition fee for all college and university students tend to have high levels of social mobility and a high percentage of the dominant middle class. In countries without such educational programs, many young qualified people fail to enroll in higher education and those who do, tend to experience social and economic discrimination. Universities and colleges in the United States are now being considered to be the domain of the privileged.
Inequality in higher education is described as the disproportionate sharing of academic resources like school supplies, school funding, and qualified teachers and staff across institutes of higher learning in a nation. According to statistics conducted in the United States, more than 30% of students with GPAs of more than 3.5 tend to go to community colleges rather than elite universities due to financial constraints. Students from wealthy backgrounds, on the other hand, are observed to attend highly ranked universities as compared to students from low social economic backgrounds. Inequality observed in access to higher education confirms the social and economic inequality evident in the contemporary society. According to QS, lack of meritocracy and resources set aside for students from low income backgrounds are some of the factors propelling education inequality in the United States.

Theories Explaining the Problem

The Human Capital Theory

The human capital theory sees education as a common investment because the main reason why individuals use their time and money to pursue higher levels of education is the high financial returns expected at the end of it all (Bill, 2020). After completing higher education and graduating, it is the dream of most students to land prestigious jobs and get paid generous wages. Although the initial aim of education was to equip individuals with knowledge that will help them make their autonomous and liberal choices, the economic grounds of this choice may still present itself.
The human capital theory states that people increase their productive capacity by pursing further education and trainings on skills. Human capital is defined as the intangible resources that have economic value to an individual’s skills and experience. Things like skills, education, intelligence, heath, and training are to be factors of human capital (Bill, 2020). The human capital theory questions whether educational investments results into higher productivity and income for employees and organizations. The thought of having more financial gains after investing in education is what propels social and economic disparities in higher institutions of learning. Educational systems have been amalgamated as parts of modern societies leading to futile binary rationales propelling social and economic disparities and inequalities.

The Economic Theory

One of the main indicators of a person’s income is their educational achievements which means that reducing inequality in higher education would reduce income inequality in the society. The economic theory states that an increase in income inequality would result into an increase in inequality of educational achievement (Marginson, 2018). Empirical studies have suggested that an increase in income inequality led to an increase in inequality in terms of educational attainment. The same articles suggest that reforms in government educational policies had a positive effect in reducing the effect of the increase of income inequality on educational inequality.

The Social Economic Theory

The social economic theory upholds that economic activities affect social behaviors. The social economic theory addresses how economic issues affect buying trends in the sense that people tend to satisfy their basic needs first before focusing on fundamental needs and luxuries. This theory can be applied to the issue of social economic problems affecting students in higher institutions of learning (Hout, 2012). Students from poor background tend to find themselves in situations where they cannot have access to laptops of internet connectivity because of the concept of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This tends to make students from poor social economic backgrounds to perform poorly in their academics.

Social Mobility and Higher Education

The pattern of social access to high value academic institutions helps in determining the social equity of opportunities available. Social mobility is affected in early education, academic achievement, transition to higher education, classification of higher education and what happens after the transition to graduate labor (Triventi, 2013). A combination of average economic growth and highly unequal income distributions leads to the dominance of middle class families in the high value places in a categorized higher education system (Triventi, 2013). With this, absolute social mobility is constrained and there is no improvement prospects relation in terms of social mobility through higher education.

Examples of Inequality in Higher Education

According to Gegel et al., (2015) students from low social economic backgrounds tend to experience unequal opportunities for educations especially because they are often forced to attend schools that are underfunded and those which have less resources as compared to other schools. Many schools around neighborhoods where low-income families reside in are often underfunded. Many students from low income backgrounds do not view higher education as a viable prospect.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, social interactions has been minimized and therefore, students have been forced to study online. E-learning is not an entirely new concept to most students in higher institutions of learning (Devkota, 2019). However, exclusive online learning has come with a lot of challenge to students especially those from poor social and economic background since most of them experience issues such as slow internet connections and diminished social aspects of learning around their homes.
The article by Hout (2020) discusses how social and economic inequalities presents itself in institutions of higher learning and how it affects student performance. The article shows how students from poor social and economic backgrounds struggle especially in the era of online learning because of lack of adequate IT infrastructure to support their learning. Most students from poor background have limited access to devices like tablets and laptops, and even internet connectivity. This makes learning hard for them. According to Grewenig et al., (2020) the main challenge faced by most students due to social-economic disparities include, diminished social aspect of learning, slow internet connection, and distraction by pets and family members.

Effects of Social and Economic Inequality in Higher Education

The social and economic inequality among students in colleges and universities has resulted into attendance issues and disparity in graduation rates, something which has led to growing social concern. The articles in this literature review investigates the relationship between economic inequality and unequal access to higher education. The articles reviewed also proposes solutions to this problem, to academic institutions, state, and federal governments to ensure that higher education is accessible to students from all backgrounds. The articles reviewed would discuss the barriers that prevent students from low-income backgrounds from completing college (Marginson, 2018). There is need for government policy makers to formulate incentives that would increase the representation of students from low-income families.
Most students from low-income backgrounds often have no issue getting into college. The main issue is always completing college and graduating with good grades. The main barriers to accessing higher education among individuals from low-income backgrounds include lack of tuition fee, lack of information, and poor high school grades. Although higher education is viewed as the primary force of upward mobility, higher institutions of learning are continuously reproducing income disparities due to social and economic inequality among students.

Causes of Inequality in Higher Education

According to an article by Kromydas, (2017) suggests that current policies governing institutions of higher educations are focusing on the labor market which consequently propels the ever increasing competition therefore converting academic institutions into an ordinary market place. According to Kromydas, (2017) the academic excellence and degrees are currently viewed as currency that can be converted into labor market value. Education has increasingly become a component of economic progress, which is a shift from its initial purpose which was to provide context for human development. Higher education has become increasingly expensive with only few students being able to afford. Policy makers should shift their focus towards creating educational systems which are inclusive of societies and communities that are just and more knowledgeable.
Systemic issues in funding by governments and private institutions is also what causes education inequality in institutions of higher learning. When students receive low quality learning resources such as computer labs, books, and other educational infrastructure their access to quality education is diminished (Dickert-Conlin & Ruberstein, 2020). Unfair allocation of resources within the government, especially to areas where low income people reside in, leads to inequality in access of higher education due to lack of adequate resources. Income inequality often worsens the opportunity of families to build their own financial future.

Current Efforts by Academic Institutions to Address the Issue

Academic institutions are often conducting initiatives to increase socioeconomic diversity in public and private universities in an attempt to address the social and economic inequalities experienced in institutions of higher learning. Most top private universities are continuously increasing the level of transparency of financial aid while public universities are focusing on mentoring, outreach, and counseling students from low income backgrounds. Both of these methods have shown tremendous success in bridging social and economic inequality in higher institutions of learning. Unfortunately, financial aid policies in higher institutions of learning have shifted from need based aid to merit based aid, something which has been detrimental to students from low-income families.


The world is continuously getting polarized and divergent causing social inequalities to rise between institutions, countries, and individuals. Common sense however dictates that individuals should move towards reconciliation rather than rivalry. With this views, policy making efforts can be informed to ensure that educational systems are built to be more inclusive, disregarding social, economic, and racial disparities. Government policy makers could develop incentives which support educational equity across all social and economic statuses.
Governments could reintroduce need-based financial aid to students from low income backgrounds, with no hope of joining higher institutions of learning to further their education. By ensuring that students from low income backgrounds have access to quality education, in elite universities and colleges, without considering their academic merit but rather their acceptance to these colleges and universities, the government could be making drastic efforts towards eliminating social and economic inequalities experienced in higher institutions of learning.
Governments could also ensure that there is fair allocation of funds, according to need, among public universities and colleges. Most public colleges and universities often experience low funding, something which makes them to lack learning resources and infrastructure required to offer quality education. By ensuring that all institutions of higher learning have equal learning resources and infrastructure, the government would have ensured that students who could not afford tuition fees in elite universities and colleges still have quality access to education.
The introduction of academic grants and loans in higher institutions of learning has however helped to bridge the gap of social and economic inequality among students in higher education. This is because students from low income backgrounds can be able to settle their tuition fees with student loans. The student loans can then be repaid once the student secures a job after graduation. Through student loans and grants, the government has been making strides towards ensuring equal access to education by students from various social and economic backgrounds.


Social and economic inequality presents itself in two ways, in institutions of higher learning. The first method with which inequality presents itself is the lack of allocation of resources to academic institutions within low social and economic residences. The other method with which social and economic inequality presents itself in higher education is through the difficulty with which students from low income backgrounds go through to access quality education. The discrimination in allocation of government and private funds to academic institutions meant to cater for students from low income backgrounds leads to lack of resources and infrastructure required to deliver quality education. This therefore, presents an inequality in the delivery quality education especially because academic institutions around high income social and economic regions tend to receive adequate allocation of funds.
Students from low income social and economic backgrounds often face a lot of financial difficulty which makes it hard for them to access higher education. Most of them end up not enrolling for higher education. Some, on the other hand, tend to enroll in institutions that lack enough resources to provide quality education. With the inequalities experienced in higher education, governments need to develop incentives to solve this issue. Programs such as need-based funding should be reintroduced to ensure that students from low income background have access to higher education. Furthermore, governments should ensure fair distribution of funds among institutions of higher learning. With these solutions, the issue of social and economic inequality experienced in higher institutions of learning could be resolved.

Bill. (2020). The Human Capital Theory
Devkota, K. R. (2021). Inequalities reinforced through online and distance education in the age of COVID-19. International Review of Education, 1-21.
Dickert-Conlin, S., & Rubenstein, R. (2020). Economic Inequality and Higher Education.,to%20students%20from%20all%20backgrounds. [As Accessed on 2nd November, 2021]
Doyle, O. (2020). COVID-19: Exacerbating educational inequalities. Public Policy.
Gegel, L., Lebedeva, I., & Frolova, Y. (2015). Social Inequality in Modern Higher Education. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 214, 368-374.
Grewenig, E., Lergetporer, P., Werner, K., Woessmann, L., & Zierow, L. (2021). COVID-19 and educational inequality: how school closures affect low-and high-achieving students. European economic review, 103920.
Hout, M. (2012). Social and economic returns to college education in the United States. Annual review of sociology, 38, 379-400.
Kromydas, T. (2017) Rethinking higher education and its relationship with social inequalities: past knowledge, present state and future potential. Palgrave Commun 3, 1.

Marginson, S. (2018). Higher education, economic inequality and social mobility: Implications for emerging East Asia. International Journal of Educational Development, 63, 4-11.
Triventi, M. (2013). Stratification in higher education and its relationship with social inequality: A comparative study of 11 European countries. European Sociological Review, 29(3), 489-502.

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