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Designing effective educational policies: what can we learn from an Italian case study

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Reprint Series
Loris Vergolini,
Nadir Zanini

We discuss the design and implementation of educational programmes aimed at increasing university enrolment. We focus on a means-test policy introduced in the Italian province of Trento, which consists of a monetary incentive in the form of a grant. To reduce inequalities in access to higher education, aid is awarded according to merit and financial need. Previous research has shown that this programme has no effect on the university enrolment. Therefore, our aim is to understand, through examination of a unique data set, why the policy failed; we also argue that the most effective design of educational policies considers the targeted population's demand for higher education, as well as socioeconomic context. In this way, we provide insight into the formalisation and efficacy of the eligibility conditions. Though our research is concerned with a province, our findings have important implications for how educational programmes should be designed and implemented nationwide and abroad.

higher education,
government policy,
equal opportunity
Educational Research and Evaluation
May, 2013