Mandatory Career Service at all EU high schools

To ensure democracy in our societies, it is essential that students from all backgrounds access higher education. In this case, it is important to recognise the existing barriers, especially for students of marginalized backgrounds, this includes but is not limited to, students of working-class backgrounds, refugees, asylum seekers, migrant students, students from rural areas, and students with disabilities. The proposal of the implementation of a mandatory career service at all high schools in the EU is both urgent and necessary.


There is a significant gap in the transition from high school to higher education. This gap particularly impacts marginalized students (working class/ refugee/ migrant/ rural background). This results in a lack of knowledge and access to higher education for marginalized students, especially those who come from non-academic families and backgrounds. There is a lack of practical career services on-site at the high school level in the EU, which is essential to support a just and equal transitional period for all students. The current situation results in a status quo of a discriminatory system that is undemocratic and elitist.


The model of the mandatory high school career service is inspired by Widening Participation Units (WPU) in Northern Ireland. These are university units that reach out to marginalized student groups, mainly targeting high schools through different inclusive programs. These programs include but are not limited to visits and orientation days at the respective university. As a post-conflict region, Northern Ireland started developing its  Widening Participation strategy in 2010. At almost 50%, Northern Ireland now has the highest participation rate from young people of any area of the United Kingdom and outperforms other regions in increased access to Higher Education for students of marginalized backgrounds.


The key solution is a mandatory career service and mentorship program at each high school in the EU. The service provided would be proportionate to the number of students. Furthermore, we propose to implement this service through an API support system. This support system has three essential parts: Advice and help, practical support, and integration process. Advice and help relate to information and access to university and course options that are available. Practical support concerns the application processes, including CV and motivation letter writing assistance. Finally, the integration process will address the bureaucratic reality and the associated financial hurdles that exist for marginalized students such as finding housing and scholarship opportunities. The proposal includes mandatory one-on-one meetings with the career services every semester during the last three years of high school; this is a model designed to tress the importance of it being a long-term and sustainable support system.

The complementary solution is designed to provide additional support within the high school education system, which is focused on a mentorship program. This includes connecting high school students with university students, preferably those who have graduated from the same high school. Mentors provide orientational support and practical help as well as guidance throughout the application process whilst tackling the bureaucratic structures in place. This adds an additional support layer, which further aids the democratization of education at the high school level.

Importance and Aims

The implementation of a mandatory career service based on the API support system and complemented through a mentorship program at all high schools in the EU will effectively diminish the significant gap in the transition from high school to university. This is of utmost importance in schools and regions where there is a high concentration of students from working-class, migrant, and rural backgrounds who tend to remain excluded from higher education. This proposal is necessary to ensure a sustainable process of democratization of educational access in the EU.