Cornelia Kristen

Immigrant inequality in German tertiary education


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This review describes immigrant inequalities in German higher education and provides an account on central findings. It focuses on different aspects of inequality at the tertiary level, in particular on initial achievements, the transition to tertiary education, the choice of field of study and type of tertiary institution as well as dropout. After considering various descriptive findings, the paper reviews significant multivariate studies which control for a variety of characteristics, in particular social origin. In addition to analyses for Germany this section also refers to findings from other European educational contexts. For this stage in the educational career a diverse picture emerges. The population of immigrant origin does not face a general disadvantage. Immigrants and their descendants start with lower achievements at the end of upper secondary education. However, when taking into account prior achievements as well as the socioeconomic background individuals from all migrant groups more often enter a tertiary institution than the majority. The immigrant population also seems to have a preference for traditional universities compared to universities of applied sciences. At the same time, the available studies do not yet allow assessing immigrant inequalities regarding choice of field of study and dropout.

Tertiary education; Immigrants; Educational inequality; Germany; Review