Does school socio-economic status influence university outcomes?

JournalAustralian Journal of Labour Economics
AuthorsIan W. Li, Michael Dockery
PublishedApril 2015
Number of Pages75-94

This study explores the role of schools’ socioeconomic status in determining academic performance at university. Data for first year domestic undergraduates at an Australian university in 2011 to 2013 are linked to schools’ data to examine the role of student- and school-level characteristics in influencing university marks. Schools’ socioeconomic status is found to have moderate impacts on university performance, with students from lower socioeconomic status schools faring better. Prior academic achievement, as proxied by ATAR scores, is found to be a strong determinant of university grades. School sector and resources are found to have negligible impacts on students’ academic performance at university. The results suggest that equity measures to increase university access for low SES students and those from lower-SES schools could be expanded without compromising academic standards.