Poll Results December 2022

Widening Participation in Higher Education

Welcome to a short survey of four questions on democracy and participation in higher education. The questions are in a yes/no format, making them easy to answer. However, there is room for you to elaborate on your answers if you have the time, and we are grateful if you do.
Question 1

Do you think that it is important for democracy to increase participation in higher education for individuals from non-academic family backgrounds?

94,6% Yes

5,4% No

Why is that?

Yes. Basing democracy’s health on rational participation:
Higher education increases cognitive mobilisation and value internalisation.
Information and the ability to gather information.
Ability to identify interests embodied in party manifestos.

Yes. As Democracy is often connected with education and participation.

Yes. Social mobility is one of the most important segments of social cohesion and stability. Individuals, especially those who are from disadvantaged backgrounds, should have access to the higher education, which might help them climb up social ladders and improve their socio-economic situation.

Yes. Because following the course of Academic Freedom in my University, the Accademia itself risk Always to become an isolated and excluded universe for only few people Who has the possibilities thanks to their professions to travel around the world and work with the institutions. Moreover, Accademia risk to propose solution without any pratical implication or we risk to impose a method or a practise which could cause more harm than good toward the local population

Yes. Because most of the people are not highly educated. Most of the people make the different during the elections.

Yes. Democracy is more than a political statement so it needs to be integrated in our daily life as a practice

Yes. Absolutely, kids that are from a poorer background can have the occasion to have a better education and to be the change in their community

Yes. Academia and professionalisation in modern liberal democracies is a class instrument first and foremost. Blocking the way for people from non-academic backgrounds reinforces the idea of “meritocracy” (which in reality is non-existent) and does not allow for social mobility, leading to further radicalisation and the stigmatization of education by working class people.

Yes. Especially individuals from non-academic family backgrounds should be able to receive a higher education since they do not have the same access to higher education than individuals with an academic family background. Moreover, I believe that every individual should be treated the same way and that goes also hand in hand with the topic of higher education.

Yes. Democracy means inclusion of everyone

Yes. That’s how individuals will become politically aware.

Yes. Democracy and higher education are profoundly intertwined. Furthermore, participation in activist and freedom movements, are tied to higher education.
In order to facilitate democracy, the inclusion of individuals from non-academic family backgrounds is crucial, as higher education plays a role in promoting values, such as freedom and tolerance. In addition, the failure of including individuals from non-academic family backgrounds, could lead to emerging gaps. By facilitating the access of individuals from non-academic family backgrounds to higher education, democracy can represent a broader and more diverse picture of society.

Yes. Providing an higher education for their citizens is a necessity for the democracies: not only a better educated society brings a stronger economic growth – which could also result in social stability-, but also educated people are more aware of their surrounding and are prone on training their critical thinking, wich necessarly lead to a better informed democracies that are capable to adapt promptly in difficult situation.

Yes. When the population is educated, is more open-minded and choose more counciously

Yes. Because education is given in society and this society is always changing and needs to have its impact on the school

Yes. I think that education is one of the main ways classes separate, and the level of education one has is often a key marker of social difference. It is however important to consider what this higher education is, and whether it is actually helpful to non-academic demographics.

No. Democracy is built upon civic consciousness and basic literacy. People do not need to possess a degree to participate in democratic procedure. What really matters is culture and philosophy, which would make people feel responsible for the things happening around and thus, vote and run for offices

Yes. Enabling and encouraging individuals from non-academic backgrounds to get a degree is something that may render the political democratic discourse more diverse and complex. Advancing into higher education provides low-income and disadvantaged people the knowledge and opportunities to be more outspoken about the issues affecting them and their surroundings. Moreover, having more learnt and aware citizens generally makes sure that the democratic state functions better.

Yes. Not every non-academic person is dull, they might still have some important thing to contribute

Yes. Democracy is the best governance system that allows the people to elect their leaders and hold them accountable.

Yes. Because personally I believe that we should consider non academica people as possible part of the solution to reinforce Democracy as a political and social model

No. Because I think nowadays everybody has equal chance and enough information to decide whether or not to enroll in an uni or not. Everybody no matter background should have equal rights to be part of a higher education system. If it comes to high uni fees, which people can not cover because they come from low income household, there can be more scholarship-Programms and ways to fund the wished education.

Yes. Normally, the culture of democracy is closely linked to the family environment, and voting is perhaps more normalised in families with university-educated parents than in those without. So I think that increasing the notion of democracy in higher education can be conducive to greater political participation.

Yes. Unfortunately, access to quality education is still unequal, especially in the most vulnerable groups of population. By increasing the participation in higher education for those individuals will positively effect combating inequalities and improve social inclusion.

Yes. I think that by increasing participation in higher education for individuals from non-academic family backgrounds it can also increase the socio-economic status of that family

Yes. Because it provides the academic environment with an inclusive outlook, in order to convey the idea that education should be accessible to all individuals, regardless of their economic and social status

Yes. Cause then we would have a chance to exchange the views with a bigger picture; not only in the bubble

Yes. The answer is a yes for mainly one reason (from my point of view). Firstly, your family background should not determine if you can or cannot have access to higher education, however, it might interfere with ways to get there (economically or “mindset-lly” speaking), so there should be financial and counselling support so everyone is and THINKS that he/she/them is/are able to. Secondly, by reducing the “diversity” in a higher education, the possibility of more points of views and more minds that might work differently is being reduced, altogether reducing the potential of these higher educations. Having more minds, lives, experiences, knowledge just makes everything more rich, and a certain family background shouldn’t stop that.

Yes. Because we are talking about opportunity, not ability.

Yes, indeed. Because democracy should aim at improving people’s lives and this can be accomplish through education, which will consequently lead to better jobs and better working conditions. Therefore, focusing on vulnerable groups (in terms of academic education) who might be systematically excluded due to non-academic family backgrounds would increase the participation in higher education and therefore improve their lives.

Question 2

Have you had any form of career guidance during your time in high school?

43,2% Yes

56,8% No

If yes, by whom and in which format?

Career department/office.
Format: one-to-one advice/workshops

But it was not as useful as it should be

I had a career guidance in form of a so-called “career-week” hosted by my highschool. In this “career-week” 20 individuals visited my highschool and talked about their jobs and their career paths.

As part of a six-month project at school, we were given the opportunity to learn about a variety of professions through presentations, as well as to obtain an orientation for later careers by taking tests.
This was designed less for the individual personalities, but more to create a broad orientation for the students.

In middle school I had my one and only form of career guidance. It consisted in an a test that would evalute my skills and led me to better known my intrest. It was futile, because at the time, I wasn’t capable to fully comprehend myself and the test itself didn’t give me any utile response to do it.

My psicopedagodist

By a teacher from whom I wanted to learn and who was willing to give me some guidance in several things. We met regularly – basically once a week. He not advised me anything regarding specific jobs/careers, but I would say that he gave me guidance in more differentiately deciding what really interests me.

My teacher teaches me to serve humanity and give back to Community through volunteering.

We used to take career tests, which in my opinion were not very helpful because they only evaluate your skills but miss on so much more important information

Tutoring by the prof at the uni

I had a tutor that “supposedly” had to guide me in my future. However that person (in any bad way) was a specialist or someone with enough abilities, resources or formation to guide young people to their future careers. To put it in another way, it was just a teacher given the “task” to do some “tutoring” about the future.

It was a psicopedagog, we had few talks.

Some seminars they gave us; however, they were far from being inspiring.

Question 3

Have you or your friends personal experiences from entering university studies from a non-academic family background?

62,2% Yes

37,8% No

If yes, did you (or they) feel any disadvantage before or during your studies in terms of writing your CV, cover letter, or an academic text?

Yes, it was me who is the first person from our family who pursues a bachelor’s degree abroad. The disadvantage was that I could really seek help in my family for giving me feedback on the academic papers or cover letters. One of the reasons for that is language barriers, but also the difference between me and my parents’ education.

Yes, it’s very hard to find an initial job or stage without any recommendation letter, which is basically based on your networks, which are often based on your family’s connections..

I come from a non-academic family background and a poor economic condition didn’t allow me to reach my full potential during high school. Years after, I’m an asset in European Politics, European Projects Management, etc. but no university will ever accept me to be their student because they can only see my bad grades of when I was living with 0€ income thousands of kilometers away from where I live now.

Si in quanto non c’è stata un’adeguata preparazione.

At least in my country there are kind of equal opportunities in education . So no

I’ll be the only one to go to university in my family, I feel like the family background is essential to build a child with general knowledge. However, with parents that didn’t study much they don’t have the tools to grow mentally and emotionally a child.
For example my parents didn’t talk to me much when I was a child and they didn’t explain to me how things work, therefore I started to speak later than average

A few of my friend were unsure about writing their CV’s and writing academic texts. Some were even unconfident and asked other indidivuals for help.

Not really thanks to the help from friends and professors

I believe that some of my friends had encountered difficulties in creating academic work. These are mainly related to the fact that their families often cannot provide help with applications or texts. However, I have also noticed a strong support from these families and support from the persons’ surroundings.

No, they didn’t fell any disavantadge in their univesity years and, then, in their job.

Mostly in being able to reach the social request (no enough money so I lived from scholarships so I had really good marks – a lot of time studing without socializing, or also avoiding hanging out due to not have enough income- )

some friends came from different countries so they found difficulties with the language when they need to write someting

To be honest, it was quite easy for me to slip into academic life.

Lots of friends of mine had been worried that they didn’t have the right preparation to sustain the test to enter to the faculty. Moreover, in our high school there weren’t any sort of courses to simulate and pass all sort of standarized test to enter, there was only a course to practise and expertise in exercises of Logic a subject omnipresent.
As a consequences, they have to Plan a study program stricly precised because someone of them weren’t able due to logistical, financial or organizational problem to attend a specific course in a preparation of a specific test outside our hometown. Luckily, there are many website Pages which furnish some free past exam to exercises

Yes, I did

It was definitely harder to understand the admission process and especially how university works, both for me and for my friends. However, I know some students from academic backgrounds that had difficulties too, due to the fact that admission tests have changed a lot in the last few years, and also new undergraduate courses sometimes have ‘innovative’ structures – at least for my country’s standard

Students from families who did not have previous access to education for any reason, felt it harder to apply to universities.

After initial struggles to settle in to their new reality, they progressively gained the required knowledge and skills to stand up to every task or challenge they had to face, be it writing a cover letter or an academic piece of writing

Yes, my friend didn’t have any family member to ask for tips on how to write their CV or how to work in a university environment. They had to ask other students but they weren’t equally available.

Yes, they have time to join trainings, and courses, or volunteering, because they don’t have to work to survive.


Question 4

Do you think that mandatory career guidance in high-school would contribute significantly to widening participation in higher education?

81,1% Yes

18,9% No

Why is that?

Yes. Young students would be better informed on what they want to do in the future. They are forced to think about their future. However, mandatory might not be the best option. I would rather make these services more wide spread, rather than mandatory.

Yes. As younger students often are not aware of all of the possibilities that there are, and it should be important to also advertise scholarship programs to make it accessible

Yes. Otherwise, there might be none who might provide with accurate information about labour market, a specific job requirement. It might help students to gain a broad perspective on the desired career.

Yes. Because we must consider that there are people Who Don’t desire to Advance their personal formation on a academic level, in addiction a persone could have a clear idea of what could be their future job before entering in High schools. Besides I Don’t reject totally the idea of career guidance course in order to understand more possibilities career trajectories in a single domain such as Medicine

Yes. I think it is important to let the students know that it’s ok if they don’t know what they want to do after school. They’ll find their path in life and they have a lot of mobility opportunities available so that they can find out more about themselves and perhaps find their vocation.

Yes. Ti darebbe di certo una mano

Yes. Learning every possible career pathway is the key

Yes. The more experiences is done the better is, just by doing new things you can understand

No. I feel that the lack of career guidance is one of the lesser hurdles the young minds face on their way to education. Counseling and guidance should be an option, but from my experience in a country where sich guidance is not offered, I have an impression it would not make a significant difference.

Yes. Because school students would be given the opportunity to choose from a broad range of careers and different career paths. I think that not every school student knows the broad range of jobs that are available or that they would be interested in.

Yes. Students are very often lost after secondary school because they do not know what they likely, how they can apply their knowledge and the path for the career they would like to have

Yes I am convinced of that. I believe individual guidance is important. I think it is important to create an awareness in which the possibilities for individuals are laid out in order to provide motivation.

No. It would certainly help, but not in a significant way: a mere guidance at the end of high school can not possbly atone for five years of nothing. The school as an institution has to reform itself to better match the current job market and has to develope during the full period of high schools program to make students better understand their possibil, their skills and their dreams.

Yes. People could think about themselves and their habilities, not as an useless human, and they could see any type of their intelligence and choose where to develop deeper

Yes. Obviously, if you give tools to the students and give them a voice, some of them would participate

Yes. Assuming that the mandatory career guidance doesn’t create extra pressure on students to perform academically (i.e good grades, conventionally high-status degree/job, etc.), it may help create inspiration in students and help them discover what their life motivations really are.

No. Sometimes this kind of “guidance” can be oppressive, especially, when those who provide this guidance are incompetent. I highly doubt that the majority of people who work in high schools are competent to give such advices. It is necessary to remember that high school have hundreds of students and there are only few real professionals of teachers

Yes, as high-school is a significant factor for the development of youth people besides e.g. family or the peer group. Nevertheless, I would like to emphasize that more important than that it’s mandatory, is the way of executing it.

Yes. Mentorship is a necessity in life

Yes. Because it helps to shape the future of the students and guide them to serve humanity.

No. Maybe someone desires to enter immediately inside the job Market inside of pursuiting a University education. however, career guidance could help students to have a more clear and precise idea about their future professions

No. I don’t think so. It may help some students clear their minds when it comes to choosing a path but I will not convince students, that have chosen they don’t want to go to attend a higher education system, that they should do it

No. Unless the counsellor is a committed person who has a real influence on his or her students, his or her role as a pillar in increasing the political participation of his or her students can easily be replaced by that of a charismatic teacher who is liked by the students.

Yes. i think it can be both. most of my friends didn’t/don’t know what to do after high school, so they just chose some university. my opinion is that by mandatory career guidance people may realize that in fact they either do or don’t want to participate in higher eduaction.

Yes. It would raise awareness and persuade students to believe in the skills at their disposal and pursue higher education

Yes. It makes it more accessible to students who maybe didn’t even consider it as a possibility

Yes. Because people would have more chances to see what are the possibilities in which path that they can choose

Yes. Lots of young people have doubts about if they, for a certain reason are or are not able to participate in higher education… Let it be family background, way of thinking, academically bad grades, etc. And those thoughts and doubts are born from the society
and people itself and I really cannot understand how those ways of thinking were born, because what they do is just limit the number of people that will study further and limit the number of people that could make a change in the world. Because, unfortunately, or not (depending on your view on it) it is highly unlikely for a person without a higher education to be able to make a change for the world. And currently, this world needs a change. The more people and minds working on it, the better.

Yes. teachers can encourage people to achieve that point that looks really difficult.

Yes. Because instead of influencing, career guidance would help young students to understand all the possible options they have, thus reducing the possibility of them making a mistake or just not applying due to unawareness.

The number of respondents to this survey was 37, born between 1994 and 2004 (ages 18-28, except one respondent born before 1991). Gender distribution was 57% female and 43% male.