ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Youth Identities and College Experience

The Case of Socio-economically Disadvantaged Students

Highlighting the complexities of higher education participation in a stratifi ed society, this article tries to understand the role that college contexts play in infl uencing the identities of socio-economically disadvantaged students. Drawing on data from fi ve lengthy interviews, the purpose is to explore the identity concerns of students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds in their experience of getting to and attending the University of Delhi, which has historically been home to middle and upper classes.

Nitika Bose ( is a research scholar at the Department of Education, University of Delhi.

Prestigious colleges are now committed to admit students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds as higher educational access works as an equaliser enabling social transformation by enhancing the knowledge and skills of people. College education broadens an individuals employment prospects and opportunities for self-development. Higher education is an engine for upward mobility and lays the foundations for individual and national progress. In all, as the Task Force on Higher Education and Society (2002) observed, higher education is no longer a luxury; it is essential for an individuals survival. Higher education is the modern worlds basic education (Tilak and Choudhary 2019).

Attempts have been made to widen participation in higher education; however, in this process of expansion, the under-represented groups continue to be denied access. Disparities continue to exist between the poor and the non-poor and between social groups. The groups that are denied access are Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Muslims, and the poor from all groups, especially from rural areas (Tilak and Choudhary 2019). For example, in 201617, as against the overall gross enrolment ratio (GER) of 25%, the GER was only 21% for SCs and 15.4% for STs. Similarly, the GER is 26% among men and 24.5% among women (Tilak and Choudhary 2019).

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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