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Non-Traditional Students in Spain: When Political Discourse of Social Justice Does Not Offer Tools for Social Justice Transformations in Practice

Marina Elias Andreu (University of Barcelona, Spain)

Towards Social Justice in the Neoliberal Bologna Process

ISBN: 978-1-80117-881-5, eISBN: 978-1-80117-880-8

Publication date: 23 January 2023


Different higher education initiatives derived from the Bologna Process (BP) agenda have been recontextualised in each country depending on their starting points, their needs, their governments' political orientation and different institutions currently in power. This has led to discrepancies in the interpretation of BP objectives. In the case of the BP in Spain, the social dimension discourse (inclusion, equity and social justice) has prevailed in official documents, but pedagogical practices, driven by the actual process, have resulted in some detrimental outcomes. The educational approaches implemented involve student-centred teaching and learning to facilitate the adaptability of future professionals in the neoliberal context. The main interest in this chapter is in different student profiles: traditional students and those whose profile does not match the traditional student profile (because of being of an older age, concurrently working or having family commitments). The main objectives of this chapter are to analyse the effects of student-centred learning approaches related to the BP on different student profiles in terms of engagement, student experiences and academic results, as well as analyse their differential access to higher education. Quantitative analyses of two data sets have been conducted, including relevant data from Via Universitaria II (2018) report and the database of the Spanish Ministry of Education covering the timeframe between academic years 2015–2016 and 2020–2021. While the data from the latter source suggest the decrease of enrolment of non-traditional students (in terms of social class and age) over time, complementary data from the former source, that confirm these results, question the suitability of the so-called innovative student-centred learning approaches for all, as they seem to put traditional students in a more privileged position with regard to opportunities for academic progress. This analysis is essential for shedding light on the educational inequalities regarding non-traditional students in Spain in the framework of the BP.



Elias Andreu, M. (2023), "Non-Traditional Students in Spain: When Political Discourse of Social Justice Does Not Offer Tools for Social Justice Transformations in Practice", Kushnir, I. and Eta, E.A. (Ed.) Towards Social Justice in the Neoliberal Bologna Process, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 79-105.



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