Swedish working class turns to university

Increasing numbers of young people from working class backgrounds are going on to higher education in Sweden's colleges and universities.

That is the finding of research carried out by the National Agency for Higher Education, which has concluded that a person’s social background has little impact on his or her final level of education.

The number of new students with parents who work in traditional blue-collar jobs has increased from 19% to 24% in the last ten years, according to the study.

In the country as a whole at that age, 34% of Sweden’s population comes from a working class background so, the report argued, there is no longer a real social bias in university and college recruitment.

The number of working class students is generally higher at colleges outside of the main cities. At the college in Gävle more than a third of all new students starting in 2003/2004 were from a blue-collar family. But at the Stockholm School of Economics [Handelshögskolan] the total was just 6%. The average number of working class students in big cities was 18%.

“The old universities have longer and more prestigious courses,” explained the agency’s Stig Forneng to Dagens Nyheter.

“They are also based in areas with a different social structure compared to colleges out in the country.”

More students from the higher social strata finish their course of education, but the differences between the social groups are, according to the study, very small.

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TT/The Local