A Broader Church? Expansion, Access and Cost-Sharing in Portuguese Higher Education
The literature on higher education used to postulate that we should expect a much more diversified student population once a system of higher education grows in size, and particularly when it moves from an elite to a mass system. There was also the presumption that increasing enrolments would go hand-in-hand with a decreasing percentage of the wealthy high-ability type of student and an increase in the proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This would have the combined effect of easing competition for higher education by making access easier for students from backgrounds of lower social and cultural capital and allowing them to realise that a higher education degree is not only possible but increasingly necessary to enhance significantly their professional and income prospects. However, empirical evidence has challenged these expectations (see, among others, Barr and Low 1991; Forsyth and Furlong 2000; Reutenberg and Svensson 1987; Taubman and Wales 1972). Several systems that experienced a sustained and rapid expansion, in numbers and types of institution, struggled to increase the proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and/or lower cultural capital. The evidence indicates that middle class cohorts exploited the expansion of the system.
KeywordsHigh Education Cultural Capital High Education System Private Institution Student Support
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