Second-chance alternatives and maintained inequality in access to higher education in Israel

Eyal Bar-Haim, Carmel Blank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Students are expected to obtain a matriculation diploma during their high school years. Throughout the world, it is considered as a precondition to gaining access to higher education. However, those who failed to meet this criterion can employ, in some cases, “second-chance” alternatives-either to obtain a diploma at an older age, or to enter specific academic programs that do not require one. The literature on second-chance alternatives tends to concentrate on these programs’ evaluation. It rarely addresses the overall effect of these programs on inequality of educational opportunities (IEO). The current study focuses on Israelis who failed to gain a matriculation diploma at their high school graduation and contemplate on the effects that ethnic differences between them play on their chances to enter higher education. Based on a new Panel survey (2012-2016), we found that Israelis from affluent ethnic backgrounds were able to increase their chances to access higher education using “second-chance alternatives”. Those from minority groups, most notably Arabs, were less likely to benefit from these alternatives. While originally aimed at improving higher education enrolment for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, these “second-chance alternatives” resulted in an increase of ethnic-based IEO. Considering the lower rates of Israelis who utilise them, we deduct that these programs “failed” to accomplish their original purpose. However, we argue that they merit further research since their understanding can benefit researchers and policy makers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-37
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Inclusion
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the author; licensee Cogitatio (Lisbon, Portugal).


The research conducted with the support of the National Research Fund, Luxembourg, in the frame of the Pearl chair project FNR/P11/05 and the frame of the NORFACE-DIAL project “The impact of childhood circumstances over the life-course, IMCHILD”, project number INTER/NORFACE/16/11333934. We would like to thank Devora Birgeir for her helpful comments.

FundersFunder number
Fonds National de la Recherche LuxembourgINTER/NORFACE/16/11333934, FNR/P11/05


    • Education
    • Enrolment
    • Higher education
    • Inequality
    • Israel
    • Second-chance


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