Private School, College Admissions and the Value of Education

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In this paper, I defend a cap on the proportion of elite or private school students admitted to elite universities to not more than the proportion of students who attend such schools in society. I draw on recent debates about educational fairness that pit principles of equality against principles of adequacy. I show that while equality best captures our convictions about unfairness in access to the instrumental and positional benefits of education, such as job prospects and university admission, adequacy best captures our convictions about unfairness in stunting the efficient development of human talent and the intrinsic benefits of education. The proposal to cap the proportion of elite or private school students at elite universities helps achieve both of these aims because it permits unequal but efficient talent development through the vehicle of elite or private schooling and also seriously curtails the unfair positional instrumental benefits of such schooling by having those students compete against each other, and not students who did not attend elite or private schools, for university places. In this way, the proposed cap creates a level playing field. The policy also achieves this aim consistent with preserving some aspects of parental choice.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Philosophy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 Mar 2016

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