Universität Bonn

Forum Internationale Wissenschaft


First generation students in neoliberal Chilean higher education

First generation students as strategic choosers in neoliberal Chilean higher education.


Carolina Guzmán-Valenzuela is Professor of higher education at Universidad de Tarapacá (Chile). She is an experienced researcher having published widely on topics such
as neoliberalism in higher education, the student experience, the public roles of universities and the global north/south divide in knowledge production. Her most recent research
project examines the publication patterns in both the social sciences and the humanities from a southern perspective.
Wednesday, 18.05.22 - 02:15 PM - 03:15 PM
Event format
Science Studies
Target groups



Hörsaal I (EG, Hauptgebäude)
Abstract: Chile has one of the most marketised and privatised higher education systems in the world. As a result, students who were systematically excluded in the past are now able to access higher education, although at a high private cost. Many of these students are first in their families to access university and seek to expand their opportunities and social mobility in the face of deep economic and social inequalities. This presentation reports on a qualitative study that examined the choices made by 25 first-generation Chilean students (FGS). Through semi-structured interviews, the study aimed to identify the factors that shaped FGS choices in relation to their universities and programmes. The study found that these first-in- generation students encountered complex and multi-levelled challenges in making university choices. Such choices were firmly anchored in differing levels of aspiration that were, in turn, strongly mediated by both family and school social capital. Drawing on Ball et al. (2002), the study proposes a new type of chooser, the strategic chooser, which challenges the notion that first-in-generation students encounter unitary trajectories in neoliberal higher education.
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