Barriers and facilitators perceived by students who enter the university through unusual routes

Imagotipo CRIEDO
Any: 2020

Higher education has evolved over the past decades, with participation expanding internationally in developed countries. Currently, the university is far from being a privilege for certain groups of society, thus allowing access to students from different social and case-related backgrounds. In this way, the European Commission emphasizes the need to guarantee education as a common good and a public responsibility (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2015), later incorporating the term social dimension as a fundamental element to ensure social justice and equity in Higher Education.

Despite the educational expansion in Higher Education and the efforts made by governments through the implementation of inclusive policies, barriers to university entry are still identified. Access to university is a challenge, especially for students from families with a low socio-cultural and educational level. At the same time, these students are often under-represented in the usual route to university, the academic route.

The aim of this doctoral thesis is to provide greater clarity in identifying the difficulties of access to university for students coming from non-traditional backgrounds in Catalan public universities. This purpose is developed under the approach of two general research objectives: a) to analyse the causes that lead students to access university through non-traditional pathways and b) to analyse the barriers and facilitators perceived by students who access university through non-traditional routes. To finally, propose a model that aims at reducing the barriers and promote the facilitators identified.

The research approach is of a mixed nature, intertwining qualitative and quantitative approaches with the application of instruments from both methods. The selected cases are two routes to access university which are considered as non-traditional pathways: a) route 4 for students with a vocational training and assimilated, and b) route 9 for students coming from the over-25 access test. As for the sample, it is composed of new entry students at public on-site universities in the province of Barcelona.

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