The role the university plays as a mechanism of upward social mobility might have been affected by two phenomena that have recently shocked university systems throughout the so called European University Space: the economic crisis (Great Recession) and the fundamental restructuring of those systems the Bologna Reform has entailed. The general objective of this research is to assess the effects these two phenomena has had on the inequality of access and progression at the university level by social origin. In order to attain this general objective, the project has four specific goals: a) to assess the eventual increase in the inequality of access to higher education (university) by social origin; b) to assess the eventual increase of educational segregation by social origin into different fields of study; c) to assess the unequal distribution of the risk of dropout by social origin among university students, prior to an eventual access to postgraduate studies; d) to assess the inequality of opportunities of access to postgraduate studies by social origin, upon completion of undergraduate studies. In order to attain these objectives, the research team intends to use the UNEIX database, which centralizes data on enrolment into graduate and postgraduate degrees at the Catalonian level. The evidence drawn from the analysis of UNEIX data will be complemented by other research techniques. First, two experiments will be carried out among last-year upper secondary students and last-year undergraduate ones. These experiments are aimed at researching the evaluation of costs and benefits made by these students in the year prior to making an important decision in their educational trajectory: enrolling in university graduate or postgraduate studies, respectively. Second, six focus groups (among lecturers, students and parents) will be organized in order to the considerations made by these collectives as regards the costs and benefits of further human capital investment for upper secondary graduates and undergraduate last-year students. It is expected that both the Great Recession and Bologna Reform have had a somehow adverse effect on equality of educational opportunities by social origin.
Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO) (CSO2016-80399-R).