22 SES 06 A, Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Education Settings
Parallel Paper Session
Literature on Higher Education in Spain has paid little attention to the importance of developing understanding of the experience of university students. Beyond basic socio-demographic profiles and specific aspects such as the needs of disabled students, or the factors related to drop-out, there is a huge lack of information about cultural and cognitive characteristics of students (Ariño et al., 2008).
According to Eurostudent (2008), 38 per cent of Spanish students are 25-years or older, in comparison with the EU average of 34 percent. This has been an ever-increasing trend during the last 10 years, as the age structure in graduate and postgraduate programs has significantly changed, and the number of people under 30 years has doubled while the percentage of students below 25 has dropped 10 points since 1999-00 (MEC, 2011). Thus, the number of ‘traditional’ students accessing Higher Education is decreasing and this trend will continue in coming years (Angoitia and Rahona, 2007).
Other relevant features of non-traditional students in Spain are the following (Eurostudent, 2008; MEC 2011):
- - 1.9 of students feel impaired in their studies by disability.
- - 4.1 per cent of students have dependent children.
- - 4.1 of graduate students come from overseas. Most of them (45.6 per cent) come from Latin America and the Caribes, but also from EU27 (30.7 per cent) and North Africa (7.4 per cent).
- - The percentage of students from a disadvantaged social background, according to parents’ educational level, is 28.37 (father) and 33.85 (mother), and 3.5 per cent of students have parents with low incomes.
According to this data, a significant percentage of Spanish university students are seen to be ‘non-traditional’. Given that existing statistics are scarce and limited - for example, only accounting for students of other nationalities but not those from other ethnic groups -, they show a high percentage of university participation by non-traditional students, and more importantly, an upward trend in recent years.
A recent OECD report (Santiago et al., 2009) suggested that little emphasis is placed on student progression through tertiary studies, with little special support or follow-up measures to assist those students who experience more difficulties. There is little evidence that students’ progress is closely followed by teachers and that students for whom a disadvantaged background has been identified receive any particular attention.
As a consequence, we lack detailed, in-depth information about how non-traditional students in Spain progress through university, what needs they present, what they demand from university institutions, or even, how they experience their daily lives on campus.
Our research aims to deepen our knowledge about the academic and social experiences of non-traditional students in the University of Seville. We are especially interested in describing the difficulties they experience in lectures and tutorials. Likewise, we want to analyze the needs they account for and their opinion about the services that the university provides, as well as their future plans and motivations.
M. Angoitia and M. Rahona (2007) ‘Evolución de la educación universitaria en España: diferentes perspectivas y principales tendencias (1991-2005)’, Revista de Educación, 344, 245-264. A. Ariño, M. Hernández, R. Llopis, B. Navarro and B. Tejerina (2008) El oficio de estudiar en la Universidad: compromisos flexibles (Valencia: Universitat de València). R. Benson, L. Hewitt, M. Heagney, A. Devos and G. Crosling (2010) ‘Diverse pathways into higher education: Using students' stories to identify transformative experiences’, Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 50, 26-53. Eurostudent (2008) Social and economic conditions of student life in Europe, http://www.eurostudent.eu/download_files/members/Spain.pdf Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (2011). Datos y cifras del sistema universitario español, http://www.educacion.es/dctm/ministerio/educacion/universidades/estadisticas-informes/novedades/2011-datos-cifras-10-uv.pdf?documentId=0901e72b809384a4 P. Santiago, J.J. Bruner, G. Haug, S. Malo and P. Pietrogiacomo (2009) Review of tertiary education in Spain (Paris: OECD).
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