The impacts of the higher education experience in the quality of life : a Norwegian-based study focusing on individuals with an ethnic minority background
Pinheiro, Romulo Teixeira
In the last couple of years, considerable attention has been given to the integration of ethnic minority individuals in western societies. The Scandinavian region is no exception and renewed debates on the (modern) nature of the welfare state have led to intense political manoeuvring surrounding the opportunities provided to socially disadvantaged groups such as ethnic minorities.
In the Norwegian national context, the (broad) educational attainment (and performance) of ethnic minority groups living in the country is below national averages. Within the higher education sub-sector, students possessing a minority background are nderrepresented. Enrolment and graduation rates are below national averages, and, most seriously, dropout rates amongst minority pupils, across the sector, are extremely high.
Advocates of the ‘human capital theory’ have presented convincing evidence of the private and social returns of educational endeavours. Most importantly, higher education is seen as a critical ‘capital’ with regard to individuals’ social mobility and consequent levels of socio-economic well-being.
‘Quality of Life’ has emerged in recent years as a key policy-instrument used to measure and tackle socio-economic inequalities amongst inhabitants and the regions they inhabit. This theoretical perspective provides a ‘holistic’ notion of life and living beyond
traditional econometric assessments used by some social scientists.
The analysis provided in this report brings together the (often) dissociated concepts of ‘quality of life’, ‘ethnic minorities’, and ‘higher education’. It is shown that quality of life outlooks amongst the minority individuals composing the study-sample differ
slightly from individual to individual. The study also sheds light on the nature of the direct/indirect impacts of individuals’ higher education experiences on the different domains of their quality of life, where a positive contribution is revealed.