SPATIAL INEQUITIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION ADMISSIONS IN GEORGIA: LIKELIHOOD OF CHOOSING AND GAINING ACCESS TO PRESTIGIOUS HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS

Maia Chankseliani

Abstract


The paper draws upon the findings of a mixed-methods study on spatial disparities in higher educationaccess in Georgia. Examination of quantitative data on approximately 118,000 applicants, a purposivesample of households and policy-makers reveals geographic inequalities in university choice-making andstudent destinations. Multinomial logistic regression analysis of HE applicant first-choice HEIs, theirgeneral aptitude and residential origin shows that of two applicants with the same measured generalaptitude, an applicant from a mountainous village is approximately 12 times more likely to apply to a leastrather than a most prestigious HEI than an applicant from the capital. Qualitative evidence is used toexplicate some aspects of the complex process of HE choice-making. Applicants and their familiesconsider a number of factors like HEI location, cost of studies, prestige and availability of the desiredprogramme when applying to tertiary education and selecting HEIs. Large differences are observed inapplicant chances to enter prestigious HEIs by their residential origin. When controlling for prestige offirst-choice HEIs, applicant measured aptitude and an array of other variables, applicants frommountainous villages are almost 8 times more likely to gain access to a least rather than the mostprestigious HEI than applicants from the capital. International research shows that HEI quality is closelylinked with higher probability of graduation, greater access to postgraduate studies and higher wagepremium. It can be argued that rural students who apply and gain admission to less prestigious HEIs, maybenefit from tertiary education to a lesser extent than urban students


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