Socioeconomic Status and Access to Higher Education in Uganda
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In Africa, transition to a more sustainable life cannot occur without the otherwise marginalised. Governments, including Uganda’s, have taken steps to better the lot of the disadvantaged by widening access to basic education through programmes like Universal Primary Education; however, access to higher education is still low, in part as a result of selection procedures that favour students of higher socioeconomic status (SES). Measures such as quota system have been introduced for admission to public universities, but there are concerns that not enough has been done. This study was carried out at four universities in Uganda, and aimed at investigating how equitable access to higher education is given existing admission procedures. On one hand, it is well known that national examinations in Uganda disadvantage students of lower SES, and yet performance in these examinations is still the main criterion for selection to university. On the other hand, it is not clear that performance in these national examinations is a significant predictor of success at university, which raises a question about the justifiability of this entry mechanism. Disadvantaging low SES students further, the study found a larger than average school effect operating at entry, where the number of students selected tended to come from a disproportionately small number of high performing secondary schools.