NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ870831
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Oct
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0379-7724
The Promise and Challenge of Increasing Access to Higher Education: Notes from a Romanian/United States Comparative Analysis
Florea, Silvia; Horvat, Erin McNamara
Higher Education in Europe, v34 n3-4 p481-495 Oct 2009
The internal processes of higher education have implications for the cohesion and shape of societies as well as for the quality of life of individuals. The comparison of the historical evolution of access to higher education in the American and European/Romanian contrasted countries reveals the presence of several norms successively constraining the organization of access. These norms will reflect the transformation of both a legitimated social order, and the role of the higher education systems within societies. This article examines several aspects of higher education's role in relation to social equity and the related notion of meritocracy, especially as it relates to admission. Since the role of higher education is measured in terms of its contribution to achieving a fair and just society, questions on the impact of higher education are considered alongside issue(s) of access, equal opportunity and widening participation. To preview our argument, we argue that the development of a national standardized entrance exam in Romania would promote greater access and equity to higher education. Relying on comparison with the US context we show how the construction of merit especially in determining access to higher education is often socially constructed in such a way as to maintain the privilege of elites. Our examination of the US context illustrated how definitions of merit can be subverted and essentially become a proxy for membership in a particular social class or social group. While the ability of the elites in any society to affect the structure and rules governing access to scarce resources and experiences will continue, the introduction of standard measures and a national rather than local system can ameliorate these forces. The ability of higher education to maintain and promote equality of access is intimately linked to its ability to continue to provide value and remain relevant to the society it serves. (Contains 1 footnote.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Romania; United States