Student movements and user fees: Trends in the effect of social background and family income on access to Mexican higher education, 1984-1996

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Abstract

The 1999 strike at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) mobilized students around the demand for free public higher education to promote equality of opportunity. In the wake of that movement, it is necessary to evaluate the effects of user fees and of free tuition in promoting equality of opportunity. For this purpose, I used the Encuesta Nacional de Ingreso-Gasto to gauge the impact of family background and household income on the chances for attending higher education since 1984. Despite the low user fees charged in Mexico's public universities during the period, the data show that selectivity by family income worsened. Private universities, always selective, remained so. More worrisome is the fact that, by the mid 1990s, young people living in the poorest income quartile of households were less than ten times as likely to attend public higher education, as compared with children from the richest quartile of households. Free tuition in itself is unlikely to promote equality of access, because the beneficiaries of free tuition - increasingly - came from upper income families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-163
Number of pages23
JournalMexican Studies - Estudios Mexicanos
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History

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