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Does Private High School Attendance Affect Preferred University Track Choice? A Research Perspective



Studies in different countries comparing the quality of education in private and public schools have used a variety of measurement methods to determine educational quality and findings have been mixed. For the unique situation of Greece, the variable of student admission to the Greek university system, depending on whether the student’s secondary education was in the public or the private system, provides an apt outcome variable to measure relative educational quality. We provide estimates of the effect of private secondary schooling in Greece on students’ admission to their preferred university academic department, using data from nationwide surveys conducted identically in 2000 and 2015. This repeated-measures research design allowed us to compare the same set of factors between the two administrations, thus examining for the stability or change of their contribution over time. Our final sample consisted of 4740 secondary school students. We used a weighted questionnaire to investigate the effect of private schooling on the trajectory to university. In our empirical model, a multinomial logistic regression was performed to classify subjects based on values of a set of predictor variables. Results indicate that attending a private high school offers secondary education students a significantly higher probability of stepping successfully into an academic department of higher relevance to their academic preferences and future career expectations. We also find that private high school education significantly minimizes the efforts required for a student to enter a desirable university department. Positive correlations between the attendance of private high school education and demographic attributes of both students and their families were also found. Research and policy recommendations are included.