Policies for Expansion of Higher Education and Practical Institutional Barriers

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 47 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Maria Ligia BARBOSA, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This paper proposes an analysis of Brazilian system of higher education, which expanded significantly in last years. It tries to show that traditional or patrimonial institutional models work as barriers to effective democratization of educational opportunities. These barriers act as obstacles even in a context of public policies directed to social inclusion and very significant increase in enrollments in higher education.

Two institutional factors will be considered. The first would be the higher or lower permeability of different careers to social inclusion policies. More prestigious professional’s careers have more difficult selective process and show more clearly the social privileged positions of their students. Moreover, access and retention of students in these courses are hampered by the different funding mechanisms used in each professional area.

The second factor, the operating rules of the various modalities of degree, includes an analysis of segmentation in public and private sectors, of courses duration, opening hours and the qualification of teachers. Each of these items can be considered as a kind of indicator of the quality of courses and institutions. Public institutions are the most prestigious, proportionally receiving more students from the elite. The private sector, larger and more socially diverse, organizes more appropriate access conditions to its audience.

A preliminary assessment indicates that institutional factors act as a regulatory mechanism of access to higher education. They make a social distribution of students at the higher education system. Efforts, abilities, skills or vocations are secondary in this distribution. Through this mechanism, the system opens formally for the entry of students from the “popular” classes and ensures that they stay at the lower quality side of tertiary education. Contrary to expected, the expansion of HES didn’t result in a equalization of opportunities: it seems to work as a “regime of effectively expanding inequality” (Alon, 2009).