Higher Education and Social Mobility in Korea: University-Based Meritocracy and Duality of Higher Education Effect

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Cho, Youngdal
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서울대학교 교육종합연구원
SNU Journal of Education Research, vol.25 no.2, pp. 1-20
social mobilityhigher education effectuniversity-based meritocracy
This paper tries to answer the question about the role of universities in the process of social mobility in Korea. This question deals with higher education to see if it can serve as a mediator variable that can explain Korea’s social mobility, and if so, what is the relation between one’s socio-economic background and higher education? Regarding this question, previous studies have concluded that the higher education in Korea is two faced in its function. One is to intensify educational inequality and consolidate social classes, and the other is to enable social mobility on the basis of traditional meritocracy. In addition to these findings, this research introduces the concept of ‘University-based Meritocracy’ based on the tradition and history of Korea. As a policy suggestion for the social mobility of Korea, the paper recommends the reinforcement of equality at the entry level of higher education and intensification of student support programs to improve one’s performance. For these goals to be achieved, following measures are recommended: priority and quota system for applicants from disadvantageous environment need to be sustained, opportunity for international experience should be equally distributed, entry barrier to the selective labor market should be lessened, etc.
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College of Education (사범대학)Center for Educational Research (교육종합연구원)SNU Journal of Education ResearchSNU Journal of Education Research vol.25 (2016)
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