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Universities and Social Inequalities in the Global South

Date: 18 Jun 2021

Universities and Social Inequalities in the Global South
Higher education can be a key driver of development and a force for social mobility. It can also be a path to overcome inequalities across gender and race by fostering labour market opportunities. But such outcomes are not automatic. If higher education is not implemented equitably, it has the potential to entrench existing inequalities and create new ones. This problem is not new, but it has taken on renewed importance with the shift to remote learning—for some—during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Broadly speaking, higher education has expanded globally over the last several decades. This event will explore what this has meant on the ground in several countries in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Who can access these opportunities and at what cost, what disparities exist between such opportunities, and what are the implications for social mobility and inequality?

The empirical research presented will serve as a jumping-off point for a discussion around the potential of higher education to reduce inequalities, and the circumstances necessary for this outcome. Check out the papers being presented here.

Paper presentations

  • Inequalities in Higher Education Access and Completion in Brazil – Tristan McCowan (University College London, UK) and Julio Bertolin (University of Passo Fundo, Brazil)
  • Diversity and Liberalization Reforms: Evidence from the University of Nairobi – Rebecca Simson (Wadham College, University of Oxford) and Andrew Harris (New York University, Abu Dhabi, UAE). (Rebecca Simson presenting)
  • Higher Education Expansion and Social Inequalities in Sub-Saharan Africa: Conceptual and Empirical Perspectives – Yann Lebeau (University of East Anglia, UK) and Ibrahim Ogachi Oanda (Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA))
  • Leaving No One Behind in Ghana through University Education: Interrogating Spatial, Gender and Class Inequalities – Jasper Ayelazuno (University for Development Studies, Ghana) and Maxwell A. Aziabah (SD Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies, Ghana)
  • Social Mobility and Higher Education in Chile and Peru – Anja Gaentzsch (Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development Germany) and Gabriela Zapata Román (Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile)

Katja Hujo (UNRISD)
Ananya Mukherjee Reed (University of British Columbia)
Yvonne Bartmann (FES Geneva)

Maggie Carter (UNRISD)

About the seminar series

This event is part of the seminar series "Insights into Inequalities", generously supported by the Geneva office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, which will invite top-level speakers to share their cutting-edge research on inequalities, elites and social mobilization in various contexts. The series picks up the conversation from UNRISD's international conference, Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization.