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Working paper

Safe Mobility: University after Technical College Pathway

This paper presents the professional college system as a social mobility channel providing maximum benefit with minimum risk. The analysis of institutional features and changes forming this channel in Russia in the last 15 years has been conducted. An institutional context for the emergence of a social group using “university after the college” pathway is described. Group members take an intermediate position between students reproducing a professional worker status and students reproducing a highly qualified professional status. They also have average school results. An analysis of parents’ and students’ perceptions of the motives of the choice, benefits, costs, and risks of the educational pathway demonstrates the importance of local context. An alternative educational pathway is less typical for the rural population because of structural constraints; compared to metropolises, in rural areas this choice is typical for higher status groups. A comparison of technical college systems in different countries confirmed that technical colleges in Germany provide social reproduction whereas in Russia and the USA, they operate as a channel of upward social mobility.