Undocumented Students In Higher Education

Mar 1, 2013

A new report looks at the experiences of undocumented students at 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the US.  The study calls on institutions of higher education to improve policies that affect undocumented students.

Of the 65,000 undocumented students who graduate from high school each year, only about 5 to 10% go on to higher education. A new report finds inconsistency in the way colleges and universities manage undocumented students.

Father Richard Ryscavage of Fairfield University was project director for the study. He says undocumented students in higher education face many of the same problems as any first generation college kid.  "We expected a lot of issues to be legal. Give them legal status and they’ll be ok. But in fact there’s a substantial number of cultural challenges, psychological challenges, financial challenges underneath."

And undocumented students face uncertain career prospects.

"It really is quite sad. They might lets say have a passion for teaching, but they know they can’t be teachers so they won’t major in it. Or others that they want to be doctors or nurses but they’re not able to so they end up majoring in something they’re less than thrilled about just to get the degree"

The paper recommends university staff receive special training on the needs of the undocumented. Also, that schools create a database of alumni who can assist these students with their post graduate careers.

Fairfield University collaborated with Santa Clara University and Loyola University Chicago on the study.