- University College Dublin
- Faculty of Human Sciences
|Patrick Clancy is Dean of the Faculty
of Human Sciences and Associate Professor of Sociology
at University College Dublin (National University
of Ireland, Dublin). Before joining the staff at
UCD he worked for a number of years as a Primary
School Teacher, having qualified at St. Patrick's
College, Dublin. His BA and PhD degrees were awarded
by University College Dublin and his Master's degree
by the University of Toronto. He main research interests
and publications are in higher education; sociology
of education; education policy; and social change
in Ireland. In addition to a large number of journal
articles and book chapters his publications include
four national studies of participation in higher
education, which were funded and published by the
Higher Education Authority. He has also served a
Joint Editor of The Economic and Social Review.
Professor Clancy has served on a variety of National
Advisory and Policy groups. These include Adviser
to the Action Group on Access, which produced
the Report of Action Group on Access (Dublin:
Department of Education and Science, 2001) and
membership of the Secretariat of the National
Education Convention whose report laid the foundation
for the White Paper on Education: Charting
our Education Future (Dublin: Stationery Office,
1995). He was a member of the Advisory Committee
on Third-Level Student Support (Report of the
Advisory Committee on Third Level Student Support.
Dublin: Stationery Office, 1993) and a member
of the Technical Work Group, which supported the
work of the Steering Committee on the Future Development
of Higher Education (1994/95). He is a Founder
Member of the Consortium of Higher Education
Researchers, which links leading researchers
and research institutes on higher education in
Europe and has participated in a number of international
studies dealing with issues such as the financing
of higher education; private higher education;
and the non-university sector.
- College Entry in Focus: A Fourth National
Survey of Access to Higher Education, Dublin:
Higher Education Authority, 2001
- Access to College: Patterns of Continuity
and Change, Dublin: Higher Education Authority,
- Irish Society: Sociological Perspectives,
Dublin: Institute of Public Administration:
|International Comparative Perspectives
on Access and Equity
My NCS project will seek to make a contribution
to the international comparative literature on
access and equity in higher education. While many
individual countries seek to monitor progress
in the achievement of equality of opportunity
there is an imperative to establish international
comparative data to compare how the policies pursued
in different countries result in differential
levels of success. The challenge is both conceptual
and methodological. In respect of the latter there
is an absence of appropriate comparative data,
notwithstanding the otherwise impressive databases
assembled by the OECD and other international
agencies. The most relevant quality data are those
assembled by sociologists working within the field
of mobility and social stratification (Shavit
& Blossfeld, 1993). However mobility researchers'
reliance on cohort analysis renders this work
being primarily 'historical' and hence not immediately
relevant to policy makers in education who require
more immediate feedback on policy initiatives.
Furthermore an insistence on a common occupational
coding frame is seriously restrictive given the
fact that different countries tend to have different
coding systems, which relate to national census
of population categories.
In addition to the problems of sourcing appropriate
comparative data there is a need to establish
a common framework for interpreting these data.
A central concern is the extent to which overall
increases in participation have resulted in the
widening of access to previously under-represented
groups. Of relevance here is the distinction between
relative and absolute changes in levels of participation.
In general, mobility researchers insist on a single
'reading' of changes in participation over time.
Their focus is on changes in relative levels of
participation and while this orthodoxy has been
challenged it remains the dominant view. It is
my view that we need to take account of changes
both in relative and absolute levels of participation.
The former takes account of the extent to which
education is a 'positional good' while the latter
points to the significance of improvement in participation
of any particular group irrespective of how other
groups have fared.
As a policy oriented sociologist my interest
in the collection and interpretation of comparative
data on participation is primarily motivated by
the extent to which differential levels of inequality
are linked to different educational policies and
practices. Herein lie the key advantages of comparative
study. A number of questions suggest themselves.
How is the structure of second level education
related to the pattern of third level participation?
What are the implications of binary second level
systems or various forms of intra school tracking
for high school completion and third level participation?
For those who graduate from high school what are
the implications of labour market buoyancy for
third level enrolments? How do higher education
student support systems and different tuition
fee regimes effect third level participation?
To what extent is participation at third level
related to the structure of third level systems?
What are the implications of binary versus unitary
or comprehensive systems? Notwithstanding differences
in social and educational structures, most countries
have adopted a number of targeted initiatives
designed to tackle the problem of inequity in
access to higher education. A challenge for comparative
analysis is to compare the efficacy of particular
initiatives and to identify best practice and
to facilitate 'policy borrowing' between countries.