Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Is mass higher education working in Portugal? : occupational restructuring, wages and skill utilisation among young university graduates, 1995-2006
Author: Figueiredo, Hugo
ISNI:       0000 0004 2677 1671
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2009
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
This thesis provides a fresh look at the relative success of the agenda of mass higher education in Portugal by monitoring how the value that employers attach to universitylevel degrees has changed since the mid-1990s. In doing so, I explicitly address the shortcomings of human capital theory as a suitable framework for understanding the implications of this agenda and argue for the need to take directly into account the possibility of a non-linear and increasingly polarised structure of demand for graduatelevel skills. The thesis then uses a variety of datasets - moving from a macro- towards a micro-oriented approach - to describe the sources of this increasing polarisation regarding both the monetary benefits associated with completing a degree and the likelihood of finding adequate and challenging work. Through these analyses, I show that, despite the large increases in the supply of young university graduates during this period, graduates' earnings premia are still relatively high and that a large majority are still employed in knowledge (-creating) jobs or in new specialisms which appear to require graduate-level qualifications. Graduates' relative earnings within these occupations are also found to have remained stable or to have even increased. However, this shift in the supply of skills is shown to have resulted since 1995 in a significant decrease of the average value of a degree, with particular sharp fall for those graduates who have been relatively unsuccessful in processes of job assignment and who are in jobs for which they are over-educated. I also show that an already sizeable and growing share of graduates is employed in jobs which appear to significantly under-utilise their productive and learning potential. This evidence of increasing polarisation among young university graduates is used not to argue against mass higher education per se but to raise serious doubts regarding the cost-effectiveness of the strategy implemented so far. In particular, I argue that following a strategy of educational expansion that disregards the need of a complementary industrial policy and of a strategy to eliminate current sources of segmentation among university students may prove to be particularly wasteful of public resources.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available