22001. Herbaut, E. (2022). Alternative pathways and social disparities in access to elite higher education institutions. Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-021-00794-5
22001. Herbaut, E. (2022). Alternative pathways and social disparities in access to elite higher education institutions. Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-021-00794-5Inequalities in access to elite higher education institutions are central in the horizontal dimension of social stratification in higher education. Previous studies have consistently shown large social inequalities in access from French “grandes écoles” (GE), but there is limited empirical evidence on the effect of alternative admission policies which have been largely implemented by these institutions. This article focuses on the effect of alternative pathways to GE which allow to transfer after a short vocational degree in higher education or a bachelor’s degree. It relies on longitudinal data on high school graduates and their trajectories in higher education to estimate whether students entering elite institutions through alternative pathways differ in terms of social and academic characteristics from those entering through the traditional pathway. This analysis is complemented by estimating the propensity to transfer to a GE among eligible students. Results show that, among eligible students, those with tertiary-educated parents are more likely to transfer. However, alternative pathways appear to diversify the social and academic profile of students in elite institutions because socially advantaged students remain a minority among those eligible to transfer.