Why are private schools getting so many kids into uni?

Today’s Age report showing that private schools dominate entry to Melbourne and Monash universities set off another round of excuse-making from the defenders of public education.

Richard Teese, a leftist education academic at Melbourne University, told The Age that:

Students in public schools came from much wider social backgrounds and the economic cost of further study was a major disincentive.

‘Wider’ here is presumably a euphemism for ‘lower’, which is true on average, but the Cardak and Ryan research showed that for a given ENTER score high and lower SES groups proceed to university at the same rate. It seems it is the marks, not the money.

This requires further rationalisations to explain why students at private schools get better marks:

independent schools were better resourced and more focused on university education

They generally are more focused on university education, and on average spend more per student – $11,208 per student in government schools and $13,049 in independent schools. But money alone can’t explain it – the Catholic schools spend significantly less per student, $8,817 but still, as The Age article notes, send a disproportionate number on to university.

Another Melbourne University academic, Richard James, said that

the middle class had lost confidence in government schools and moved its children to private schools, largely due to funding cuts and closures under the Kennett government. (emphasis added)

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