Are Elite Universities Meritocratic? A BSA Bourdieu Study Group Event


Tuesday 8th July 2014 10am-4pm

Cardiff University

Key Note Speakers: Professor Diane Reay and Dr. Vikki Boliver

Bourdieu talks about university being a process of ‘elimination’ for those who lack the type of ‘capital’ valued by those institutions. In the UK meritocracy is promoted, the idea that one’s position in society is determined by ability plus effort rather than background. However, despite the gap closing slightly in recent years, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are still much less likely to be admitted to higher education and specifically to elite universities. UCAS data (2013) shows that young people from the most advantaged areas are still 7.5 times more likely than those from the most disadvantaged to enter a higher tariff institution. Moreover Black and Asian young people are much less likely to receive an offer from a Russell group university than their White counterparts. In a context where universities are charging up to £9,000 it is important to scrutinise their admissions processes. This conference will do just that, asking the following questions: Are elite universities meritocratic? What role does class and race play in their admissions processes? The conference will also consider the question of what happens to the minority of disadvantaged students that do make it through the system. Overall asking a crucial question: Are elite universities –themselves- reproducing inequality?

Prices: BSA Concessionary Members – £35; BSA Members – £40; Non BSA Members – £50.

To register go to:

For further info contact: or (0191) 383 0839

For academic queries contact: Jessie Abrahams:

For more info about the BSA Bourdieu Study Group:


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