Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Pages: 3628-3635
ISBN: 978-84-09-14755-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2019.0932
Conference name: 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 11-13 November, 2019
Location: Seville, Spain
The increase of the educational level of the population in the last decades has enabled more people from wider backgrounds to take higher education (HE) qualifications. However, students from lower social class backgrounds continue to be underrepresented in universities of Pyrenees-Mediterranean Region. The percentage of children from low educated parents in Spain is 55%, but only 11% from the lower social class groups (i.e., low family level of education and low parents’ occupations) participate in HE. Although this proportion has been increasing, this underrepresentation is especially remarkable in areas as health sciences (7,77%), experimental sciences (6,76%) and engineering and architecture (9,80%). In fact, according to the report Education at a glance (OCDE, 2018), in Spain, there is no upward intergenerational mobility in educational attainment for 55% of the children of low educated parents who have also not attained an upper secondary education. This is also reflected in the large percentage of young adults in Spain without an upper secondary education (34% in Spain compared to 15% on average across OECD countries), in spite of significant increase by 25 percentage points in upper secondary first-time graduation rate between 2005 and 2016, becoming closer to OECD figure: 81% and 87%, respectively.

The present study analyses how the students’ family socioeconomic background influences on career enrolment and perceived usefulness of studies in a sample of 4.007 undergraduate students from 20 universities of Pyrenees – Mediterranean Region in the framework of Via Universitària Survey (2018). The study tested the hypothesis that there is a horizontal segregation in the university (i.e., students from groups of low social status are concentrated in certain areas, such as social and law sciences and humanities), while those students from groups of higher social status are more concentrated in health and experimental sciences and engineering and architecture. The perceived usefulness of the studies is also different among the different socioeconomic status groups. Students from higher social background groups consider that studies will allow achieving better social position and higher incomes more than the lower ones. In addition, the results reveal that lower social background group’s expectations after the bachelor are more focused on work, while higher social background groups expect to go abroad to continue their education. The implications of the results for labour, social, economic, and education policy and future research guidelines are also discussed.
Horizontal segregation, higher education, socieconomic background, career enrolment.