Experts say Australian selective schools offer little long-term advantage for students.

Recent research indicates that selective schools, which admit students based on their performance in academic entrance exams, do not significantly improve university or career outcomes compared to non-selective schools.

The study involved nearly 3,000 young Australians tracked from age 15 to 25. 

The researchers compared the university and career outcomes of the 18.8 per cent of participants who attended selective schools with those who attended other schools. 

The results showed minimal differences in employment and university enrolment at age 19, which were attributed to factors such as socioeconomic background, gender, and geographical location. By age 25, the differences were negligible.

Parents often wish to enrol their children into selective schools “because they believe it will increase the chances of their children getting into a prestigious university, and securing a well-paid and high-status job”, according to Victoria University researcher Melissa Tham.

However, the study found that selective schools did not significantly enhance these prospects. 

For instance, while 81 per cent of selective school students secured a job or university place at age 19 compared to 77.6 per cent of non-selective school students, this gap closed when adjusting for key characteristics. 

By age 25, general life satisfaction was the only measure where selective school attendees scored slightly higher, with a mere 0.19-point increase in satisfaction.

“These very modest findings indicate that attending an academically selective school does not appear to pay off in large benefits for individuals,” said Andrew Wade, a co-author of the study.

Shuyan Huo, another co-author, says there is a need for further research to evaluate the benefits of selective schools. 

“Rather than tweak some aspects of the enrolment processes, we see greater value in conducting a thorough and critical examination of fully and partially selective schools, and scaling back selectivity if the supposed benefits are not found,” Huo said.