Is Access to Public and Private Universities a Matter of Social Justice?

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 12:42
Location: Hörsaal 47 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Iasonas LAMPRIANOU, University of Cyprus, Cyprus
Loizos SYMEOU, European University Cyprus, Cyprus
Eleni THEODOROU, European University Cyprus, Cyprus
Limited access to University Education (UE) for young people with low socio-economic status has frequently been seen as a phenomenon which perpetuates the social status quo and leads to a polarized system of UE (Crozier et al., 2008).

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.