Vulnerability and Educational Opportunities in Higher Education Students from Mexico

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 9:42 AM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Judith PÉREZ-CASTRO , Education and Arts Department, Juarez Autonomous University of Tabasco, Villahermosa, Mexico
Guadalupe PALMEROS Y ÁVILA , Juarez Autonomous University of Tabasco, Villahermosa, Mexico
Irma COETO CALCÁNEO , Juarez Autonomous University of Tabasco, Villahermosa, Mexico
Higher education enrollment in Mexico has increased considerably since the second half of the 20thcentury. Nowadays, it is estimated that 33% of school-aged young people attend tertiary education. However, the educational system still has many limitations; two of them are the restricted access to vulnerable people and the low rates of retention.

In 2013, the Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination was issued.  Regarding education, this Law seeks to eradicate any kind of discriminatory behaviors that might hinder or limit access to public or private education, scholarships or other educational incentives.  However, until now, vulnerable people in higher education are underrepresented and there are no official data about the proportion of vulnerable students that are actually registered in tertiary institutions. 

This paper is the result of a study that aims to understand the possibilities and difficulties faced by vulnerable people to enter, remain and graduate from higher education. Specifically, we focus on three vulnerable groups: ethnic people, disabled and women heads of households. We also encompass four dimensions: 1) Personal features, 2) Family conditions, 3) Institutional constraints, and 4) Public policies. Each dimension covers an array of factors or variables.

The results showed us that factors such as prior educational background, interpersonal relationships with other students, with teachers and administrators, parents' education, family income and the lack of inclusive policies either public or private tend to affect the rates of admission, retention and graduation of vulnerable students. In contrast, geographical origins and institutional action plans affect retention and graduation, but not admission. This latter is especially true in the case of ethnic people and women heads of households who have family responsibilities and low economic income.