The quantity and characteristic of the recent university graduates are the result of the process of educational expansion experienced in the last decades. That process has been the result of the convergence of strategies of the families, the state and the employers. This phenomenon has borne a strong growth of the proportion of each generation that have been able to have access to a university education as well as of the one that have graduated. In the case of Spain this phenomenon has implied the access to the University of more than a third of the youths during the last decade. This process began in the sixties but has acquired its biggest development during the democratic period. It is necessary to highlight that the participation of women in the superior education has been one of the more important characteristics of the process.
On the other hand, our societies and our economies are suffering deep transformations. To meet the challenges posed by those changes it is considered the elevation of the educational level as a decisive factor. But this doesn't take place in a uniform way, but rather responds to the strategies characteristic of the different communities of university students which, at the same time, have increased their diversity – a process that took place as their quantity increased - and also to the opportunities that the labor market has offered. Is it for these reasons that the transformations of our university system often raise the following query: have this transformation questioned the objectives of fairness and equality prevalent during the last decades, in which the Spanish university system has played such an outstanding role?
In the process of decisions taking about the needs to reform the educational system, the governments and the social agents should confront numerous challenges, one of which refers to the offer of university education. The framework of reference of university’s policies has changed it dimension from a local to a more European one, being at the moment relatively dominated by the need to construct the European Space of Superior Education (EEES).
To know of the degree of fairness, equality and professional mobility that underlies in the process of expansion of the university’s population and of the university’s students graduated before the educational reform was put in place, will allow us to have a reference point to compare the impact of the educational reform that is taking place at the moment and to build a methodology that could allow to follow the professional achievements of the future generations of university’s graduates.
This research plans to take full advantage of the invaluable resource provided by the survey carried out by the Agency for the Quality of the University System of Catalonia (AQU) in 2008 on the professional insertion of those graduated in Catalonia in 2004. This survey incorporated new variables, such as the family of origin, the academic performance at the pre-university and university level, and it offers the opportunity to carry out a statistical exploitation of these data. At the same time, the data is so detailed, that it will be the base of a qualitative work.
This research has as its main objectives:
a) To analyze the behavior of the different communities of students and the impact of the institutional configurations that limit or promote these behaviors to face the social, economic and political changes that they face, with special attention to the educational, social and professionals strategies.
b) To assess the degree of fairness, equality and professional mobility that underlies the process of expansion of the university population.
c) To advance in the theoretical and methodological analysis to be used to analyze the life trajectory of the university students graduated under that reform.
d) To obtain quantitative and qualitative information on the different communities of students and of university students graduated.
e) To propose a methodology to be able to analyze the impact of the university policies with respect to the fairness and equality in the access to the university education, as well as to be able to follow the occupational mobility of the students graduated under the new policies.
The inquiry on the types of life trajectories of the students will be carried out using, in theoretical terms, the works carried out by the GRET in its twenty years of experience of research and the methodology that will be used is both quantitative and qualitative.