De Gayardon de Fenoyl, Ariane. “Access in free-tuition systems”. PhD, Boston College, 2017. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:107316.
As higher education enters the 21st century, funding issues have evolved with continued massification and limited government funding (Johnstone & Marcucci, 2010). Increased reliance on students and their families to cover the cost of higher education have led to student demonstrations across the globe, their main demand being free tertiary education to improve equitable access (Bernasconi, 2012; Cloete, 2015; Taylor, 2014). This international comparative quantitative international study explores the relationship between tuition fees policies, and more specifically tuition-free policies, and equitable access in three Latin American countries. Participation, college choice, and attrition decisions are analyzed through the lens of the financial and cultural capitals of students, using 2011 and 2013 data from socio-economic surveys in Chile – a high tuition fees country, and Brazil and Argentina – two countries with free public higher education. The findings suggest that tuition fees policies do not carry the importance students think it does. Countries with tuition-free public higher education seem to have similar issues, if not worse, than tuition-charging countries in ensuring equitable access and success for students from low socio-economic backgrounds.