Access to postsecondary education: Can schools compensate for socioeconomic disadvantage?

George Frempong, Xin Ma, Joseph Mensah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


While access to postsecondary education in Canada has increased over the past decade, a number of recent studies demonstrate that youth from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are vulnerable to some degree of exclusion from postsecondary education. These studies tend to emphasize the lack of financial resources and social capital as the main sources of this vulnerability. Our paper employs multilevel framework to explore the extent of the impact of schools on access to postsecondary education, especially for youth from disadvantaged background. Our analyses revealed that: (1) for youth with similar financial constraints who attend schools with relatively similar quality, those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds who attend schools with high concentration of low SES students are particularly vulnerable to exclusion from university education, and (2) a substantial portion of the SES effect operate through the impact of high school academic achievement and postsecondary education expectation on access to postsecondary education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-32
Number of pages14
JournalHigher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Access
  • Postsecondary education
  • School quality Canada
  • Socioeconomic disadvantage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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