Recommendation on the diversity policy in higher education (11 September 2018)
The Vlor states that the composition of the student population in Flemish higher education must reflect society. Despite the efforts of government and institutions in recent years, this is not the case today. However, it is a social necessity to be able to deal constructively with the super diversity of modern society. Moreover, with a view to the realization of the knowledge society, higher education must deliver more highly educated people. The Vlor therefore considers the inflow, progression and outflow of disadvantaged groups in higher education a particularly important theme.
A higher education diploma gives the best opportunities on the labor market. Moreover, it offers the highest social return. Those who have a higher education degree, on average, develop a better and healthier lifestyle and therefore have less recourse to health care. The democratization of higher education must therefore remain high on the policy agenda. A large part of the efforts must focus on convincing the socially disadvantaged (pupils and their parents) to start higher education and to encourage them to do so, starting from primary and secondary education.
What should the government do?
The Vlor believes it is not only important that more students from disadvantaged groups are led to higher education, but also that their study efficiency improves. Flowing in, through and out in higher education must therefore remain a Flemish policy priority. In addition, adequate financing of the equal educational opportunities policy must be provided. Monitoring the participation of disadvantaged groups and the effects of the policy is also a necessity for the Vlor.
What should the institutions do?
An integrated diversity policy in higher education institutions is based on a vision on diversity and the belief that diversity is important and is treated as a priority at all levels of the organization. An open and warm institutional culture attracts students from all groups of the population and supports diversity policy.
The Vlor also formulates other critical success factors: adequate financing, guidance and communication. In addition, focusing on connection and cooperation is essential.