Is Access to Public and Private Universities a Matter of Social Justice?
Recently, there has been a surprising growth of private UE in various countries (e.g. Polland, Hungary, Chile) and this is often linked to political and economic factors (Levy, 2004; Espinoza and Gonzalez, 2013). Private UE has recently changed the educational landscape in Cyprus as well, and approximately half of the students attend private universities (MoEC, 2014, page 43), a finding also reported for other countries (Espinoza and Gonzalez, 2013).
However, attending private UE is costly whereas public education is usually free or low-cost. Students’ desire to achieve access to UE often leads to unsustainable degree of debt which causes additional stress and burden on students and their families (Cooke et al, 2004).
The objective of study is to describe the population that accesses public and private University education in Cyprus and to discuss the political and social implications of the phenomenon.
Contrary to the existing literature, and contrary to our expectations, the results suggest that the social status of the family (e.g. parents’ education and occupation) is not a major predictor of whether a student attends a private or a public university. It was found that the financially disadvantaged students, however, (those who had to work and also wished they could have more support from their families), were more likely to attend private universities.
We consider our findings to be important for both policy makers and educationalists and we will discuss the next steps for future research.