This article shows how the probability of enrolment in tertiary schools has evolved for different social groups in Poland during the period of the educational boom. It also analyses how the socio‐economic status influences the choices between full‐time and part‐time studies (the latter being of relatively low quality), and the probability of admission to subsidised, free programmes versus programmes with tuition fees. Between 1994 and 2008, Poland improved the participation of students with a low socio‐economic status in university education. However, if we look at the change in the ratios of enrolment probabilities for different layers of the social strata, we find that the improvement refers to those with a low family educational background who live in small cities, but not to those from low income families. Further investigation shows that the policy makers should focus not only on ensuring equal access to tertiary education for all social strata, but on allowing the unprivileged groups access to education of acceptable quality.

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