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On Income Advantage in University Admissions and College Major Choices: Evidence from the University of the Philippines

Daway-Ducanes, Sarah Lynne and Pernia, Elena and Ramos, Vincent Jerald (2018): On Income Advantage in University Admissions and College Major Choices: Evidence from the University of the Philippines.

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Abstract

The empirical evidence in developed economies suggests a rise in inequality of access to higher education in favor of students from higher-income households. Is this `income advantage’ also pronounced in developing economies like the Philippines, where there have been recent deliberate efforts by the government to democratize access to higher education? Using quantitative (logistics regression) analysis on admissions data from the country’s largest and foremost state university – the University of the Philippines (UP) System (whose students are labeled locally as “Scholars of the People”) – for the period 2006-2015, we find that there is an `income advantage’ not only in terms of being admitted into the UP System, but also in being admitted into the applicant’s first-choice course cluster: Applicants coming from the top three income deciles have higher probabilities of being admitted. Other significant determinants of admission to the UP system and to one’s first-choice course cluster are sex, high school grade weighted average, high school type, and high school region. Our results suggest that the new free tuition policy at public universities and colleges, including the UP system, is more likely to disproportionately benefit students coming from higher-income families.

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