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Department of Sociology
«Admission Impossible? School Choice in European Cities»

New project on school choice in Europe

The project «Admission Impossible? School Choice in European Cities» received a 12 million Norwegian kroner grant from the Norwegian Research Council after this year’s spring-call.

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UiB

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About the project 

School choice is a fundamental right for parents to have access to schools that best suit their children’s educational and social needs. But vast inequalities exist in the extent to which parents can choose and enhance their children’s educational opportunities. Parents with greater economic means already have choice as they can afford to move to an area with high-quality public schools or enrol their children in private schools. Parents without such means generally do not have same access to choices and must send their children to schools assigned to them by municipalities regardless of the school’s quality or appropriateness.

Governments seek to devise policies which will meet parental demands for school choice without increasing segregation and inequality. However, there is little consensus among policy makers or researchers as to what policies might achieve both objectives. Research has thus far failed to take account of how national choice policies are implemented at the local level and how variations in this may affect outcomes both locally and nationally. Our research will address this problem through comparative analysis of the policy process and the outcomes of school choice implementation in fourteen cities in Western Europe.

Three approaches

The research study is a pioneering development into school choice in Europe and consists of three integrated projects: The first project is a qualitative inter- and intra-national study of school choice politics in fourteen cities in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France, and England. The second project uses a mixed-method approach to examine pupils’ preferences for and experiences with choice in four cities in Norway, through a survey, in-depth interviews, and focus groups with pupils from different socio-economic backgrounds. The third project is a quantitative study, which aims to examine the causal effects of school choice at the upper-secondary school level on academic achievement, ethnic segregation, and segregation based on socioeconomic background in Norway.