In a nutshell, how do we create policies and structures that make it possible for more people to pursue postsecondary education?
We profess that higher education makes a distinct and significant contribution to the public good, and therefore have a vested interest in exploring barriers to higher education and involving ourselves in engaged scholarship that helps to address the issue.
Seen through this lens, most, if not all, of our work at the Forum could be considered as access-oriented. However, several of our past and current projects focus specifically on access issues. Currently, we are engaged in several research projects examining the issue of access to higher education for immigrant students. The issue is an often contentious one, especially when it comes to the immigrants’ documented status. This makes it even more important for the Forum to engage in rigorous and responsible research on the issue, to enable scholars and practitioners to understand the whole issue and make informed decisions that will hopefully lead to greater educational attainment for the betterment of our society.
The National Forum is seeking to re-situate this problem as one shaping the public interest and to foster a concern among educators that would lead to greater commitment from our professional associations and inter-jurisdictional agencies.
Because we are a part of the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education (CSHPE) at UM, we take seriously our responsibility for leveraging research for societal change. This is often where students who are concentrating in Public Policy (PP) and Academic Affairs and Student Development (AASD) find themselves making a real connection between their coursework and their Forum research.
Research conducted by the National Forum reveals that in the absence of a national policy on immigration, access decisions are being left to institutional, state and local jurisdictions. Information to guide these decisions — the de facto policies that intersect immigration and college access — is inconsistent, even among those who indicate strong interest in the issue. Local biases and individual prerogatives guide institutional decision in many cases, and well-qualified students are being excluded from attendance.