Equity strategies for increasing the participation of disadvantaged students in higher education are on the agenda of many governments. However, particular contexts may create a number of regulations addressed to enhance participation, but little debate on the mechanisms to increase equity.This thesis is a case study that analyses the contribution that a number of strategies has had in relation to the access of disadvantaged students at the University of Antioquia, a prestigious public university in Colombia. This university is run under development plans and policies that seek to meet the needs of the society, characterized by socioeconomic inequalities. In order to examine the strategies, it was paramount to identify who the policy makers in the institution are, and how the dynamic of decision making works. Data was collected through individual interviews, and national and institutional documents.Based on the neoinstitutional theory approaches, the thesis examines the process of legitimacy and institutionalization that shape institutional policies regarding access and equity. Findings of this thesis show the tendency of a politicized steering model at the University of Antioquia. This model shows a great influence in the success and failing of the strategies that pursue equity, due to it leaves the university without the support to strengthen strategies. Little debate and low commitment by governments have led to major ambiguities and lack of clarity in a complex context where other groups of disadvantaged students emerge, while the traditional lower socioeconomic strata students continue reporting low participation in higher education.
Keywords:Equity, access, disadvantage students, socioeconomic strata, equity strategies, affirmative action.