In the Nordic countries financial barriers for equal access in higher education have been effectively reduced by high level of social security, absence of tuition fees, and the presence of government grants. However, social stratification is embedded into the system. Higher education produces socially biased student populations to different institutions and study programmes. At the same time as the differences in overall higher education opportunities of students with academic background and those coming from a non-academic family have diminished, students with non-academic background are over-represented in less-prestigious programmes, whereas elite programmes (such as medicine and law) become more exclusive and elitist. We conduct research to examine processes and practices through which higher education institutions produce stratification and channel access strategies of different groups of students.


  • Cross-cutting issues focusing on justice and equality in the Nordic higher education research
  • Reputational status hierarchies in Nordic higher education
  • Distribution of access of ‘non-traditional’ students in Finland