Underprivileged students have more difficulties in accessing work, study reveals – Society


More and more students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds attend higher education in Portugal, but inequalities in access to employment for these young people who face a greater risk of unemployment remain, warns a study by Edulog.

The study of the Belmiro de Azevedo Foundation’s initiative indicates that the expansion of higher education is still not enough to combat inequalities, with more cases of school leaving, greater difficulties in entering the labor market and “greater risk of unemployment” ” among students from more fragile socio-economic backgrounds.

The problem starts much earlier: “There is a large percentage of young people this Sunday who are the first to have a higher education in their family”, told Lusa Alberto Amaral, member of the Advisory Board of Edulog.

In the 1960s, Alberto Amaral was one of approximately 50,000 higher education students in Portugal and “the percentage of young people from the lower class was extremely low”, he recalled in statements to Lusa.

Currently, universities and polytechnic institutes have eight times as many students: last year alone there were 412,000 students enrolled.

“There are more and more young people from lower classes in higher education, but, as a general rule, they do not enter the best courses or the best institutions”, warned Alberto Amaral, who was rector of the University of Porto throughout the 1980s and 1990.

Coming from low-educated families and often with low incomes, these young people do not have the same support in compulsory education.

Students from more privileged socioeconomic backgrounds can have help at home, have explanations when they cannot keep up with the subjects taught in class, attend colleges and parents can be an asset when choosing a higher education course, he pointed out.

In courses with higher access grades, such as medicine or industrial engineering, there are few underprivileged students. “The percentage of scholarship students is much lower in medicine than in nursing”, he exemplified, based on the results of the study ‘National and international students in access to higher education’.

The study reveals that the massification of access to higher education has not yet managed to overcome inequalities. “This is a long and time-consuming process and it will take several generations,” he said.

Students who decide to apply for higher education are influenced in their choices by the socio-economic context from which they come. Students from more privileged backgrounds have better grades in secondary education and national exams, and are then able to apply for the more selective courses that, as a general rule, are offered by universities.

In addition, for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, it is more difficult to bear the costs associated with attending a private institution, or to bear the costs of mobility and the standard of living in some cities, adds the study released this Sunday.

This “lack of equity in access to higher education can be seen all over the world, the most curious being the fact that this effect is maintained later on in access to employment”, underlined Alberto Amaral, explaining that students from disadvantaged backgrounds ” face greater risk of unemployment.”

The study therefore concludes that higher education is not always able to fulfill its role as a promoter of social mobility.

Edulog researchers concluded that, on average, “students who complete their academic training at public universities tend to be less prone to unemployment than those at public polytechnics”.

According to the study, the problem is not in the quality of training provided by polytechnicians: the differentiation is the result of polytechnic institutes receiving students from more diverse socio-economic contexts, “with a greater propensity to unemployment being a reflection of the inequalities that already exist at the time of access, and not a failure of polytechnic education in fulfilling its mission,” explains the study released this Sunday.


Source: Correio da Manhã by www.cmjornal.pt.

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