English and American higher education access and completion policy regimes: similarities, differences and possible lessons

Dougherty, Kevin J.; Callender, Claire

Abstract or Description: England and the United States provide a very interesting pairing as countries with many similarities, but also instructive dissimilarities, with respect to their policies for higher education access and success. The purpose of this paper is to explore these similarities and dissimilarities with an eye to what each country can learn from the other with regard to reducing social class and racial/ethnic differences in higher education access and success. We focus on seven policy strands affecting higher education access and completion: student information provision; outreach from higher education institutions; student financial aid; affirmative action or contextualisation in higher education admissions; higher education efforts to improve retention and completion; performance funding; and degree of reliance on sub-baccalaureate institutions. While not exhaustive, this list of interventions is meant to focus on key policies affecting the undergraduate student experience and to give a sense of their range. We explore possible lessons that England and the United States might draw from each other’s experiences, mindful of the dangers of uncritical “policy tourism”. In the case of the United States, we note why and how it might benefit from following England in the use of Access Agreements to govern the outreach efforts of its universities, making more use of income-contingent loans, and expanding the range of information provided to prospective college students about the programmes and institutions they are considering. Meanwhile, in the case of England, we examine how it might benefit from greater focus on the role of further education colleges, sceptical consideration of proposals to make greater use of for-profit higher education, greater use of grant aid in its financial aid system, more policy attention to decisions students are making in primary and early secondary school that affect their preparation for higher education, greater use of contextualised admissions, and very careful consideration of the possible downsides of performance funding.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Community College Research Center
Centre for Global Higher Education, UCL Institute of Education, London
Centre for Global Higher Education Working Paper Series, 24
Published Here
October 3, 2017