Tuition fees, entrance examinations and misconceptions about equity in higher music education


  • Tuula Jääskeläinen Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland


The increasing participation rate in higher education has raised its own issues, such as how to fund the growth while retaining the quality of education. In Finland, it has been argued that the tuition-free higher education policy increases equality. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom, establishing a system of tuition fees supported by an income-contingent loan system for students has also been argued to increase equality. In Australia, students also face high tuition fees for higher education, as well as a support system focused on domestic students. In addition to tuition fees, entrance examinations also play a crucial part in higher education systems. In order to examine inequalities in higher education from the students’ point of view, tuition fees are scrutinised in connection with equality, and entrance examinations in relation to cultural reproduction. Comparing examples of higher music education institutions in Finland, the United Kingdom, and Australia shows that there are large differences between the tuition fees charged for domestic and international students, as well as between countries. Entrance examinations in higher music education are similar in these countries, but may include inequalities based on long traditions in the field of music, especially in classical music. By revealing misconceptions about equity in higher education, it is possible to have a critical debate about the role of tuition fee systems as they are connected with the economics of higher education, and about entrance examinations as reproducing social class inequalities. This discussion may contribute to the redefinition and reformation of more equitable and just education systems, and promote equality in general in society.





Original Articles


tuition fee, entrance examination, equality, cultural reproduction, higher music education