Immigrant children in Britain tend to be more serious about higher education, according to a new report, in contrast to other countries in which immigrant children have fewer opportunities and less social mobility.
The study, conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), found that 58% of people aged 25-45 with immigrant parents make use of higher education in England, compared with 46% of those without immigrant parents. In Northern Ireland, the ratio is 53% to 38%. In most other countries within the OECD (which includes the US, Australia, France, Germany, and Japan) the ratio is similar. However, this is not true for many other member nations.
According to Andreas Schleicher, the OECD director for education and skills, children from non-immigrant backgrounds have a higher likelihood of downward social mobility in the UK than those from immigrant backgrounds:
“Many people suspect for immigrants they are going to be more likely to be at the lower end of the performance spectrum. That’s not actually true. The risk of downward social mobility for British people is actually higher than for immigrants. If you have poorly educated parents, you are less likely to be poorly educated as an immigrant than if you are British.”
However, the situation differs for immigrants in other OECD countries, where their children often do not fare as well. The reason for the success of the UK’s immigrant children is unclear, reports Sally Weale of the Guardian.
According to Schleicher, it could be greater levels of motivation, or it could be that the system within the country is more permeable and allows for more upward mobility. However, he can’t answer why it works for the children of immigrants and not native British children, reports Lynn Davidson of the Sun.
Unfortunately, Britain and Northern Ireland are the exceptions to the rule. In many countries, immigrant children have less access to education than their peers, making it more difficult for them to actually find jobs.
There are fewer immigrant children enrolled in preschools in many countries, which according to the OECD is vital for developing cognitive, emotional, and social skills, reports Voa News.
Only 12 of the 35 member nations are on track to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that deal with education.
Luckily, investment in education in a number of nations is on the rise.
OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria pointed out at a news conference:
“Governments are becoming more innovative in financing our education despite tight budgets, including by shifting costs to students and households… or with loans repayable once you have a job, and things like that.”
Gender imbalances in higher education remain, with relatively few women studying science and engineering.
The OECD is based in Paris.