BEYOND NUMBERS: POLITICS AND REALITIES OF ACCESS AT THE PUERTO RICAN PUBLIC UNIVERSITY
University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (PUERTO RICO)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:The preamble of the University of Puerto Rico’s Law #2 establishes public higher education’s preferential option for talents proceeding from the country’s most economically disadvantaged classes (“To develop fully the latent intellectual and spiritual richness in our people, so that the values of intelligence and of spirit of the least favored in terms of economic resources, can be put to the service of Puerto Rican society” Law #2 1966). With the passage of time and the worsening of the University’s finances, tuition hikes, quotas, and other study-related costs have become the most frequent remedial measures. Likewise, the adjustments in GPAs and in program slots have become usual (“Higher education […] has become a mechanism for reinforcing social class, rather than a vehicle for fostering social mobility,” Haycock 2006). The pondered analysis of the implications of such measures precisely for the country’s most disadvantaged populations has been, on its part, blatantly missing. We hear much about re-engineering, but only one model is conceived as possible: downsizing + reduction of the public investment = accountable public education. In what other ways can we re-think public higher education? What role should the variables of access and poverty play in such re-thinking? These are some of the main questions the Carvajal project of research and outreach, called Democratization of Knowledge and coordinated by the University Center for Access (CUA) at the UPR-Mayagüez, sets for itself.
This presentation seeks to analyze the relationship between access and poverty in the Puerto Rican public University using comparative data from 2008 and 2011, as well as to expose the intervention model proposed by the CUA to understand such relationship. As a result of this investigation, my presentation will also make recommendations in light of the data considered and, above all, in light of the people and names that lie hidden behind figures and numbers.
Keywords: University access, poverty, action and participatory research, research and outreach.