22 SES 13 C, Higher Education Drop-Out: Reasons and Risks
In the autumn 2013 the EU Commission issued a call for tender concerning a study on drop-out and completion in higher education (HE) in Europe. The call suggests how important politicians and other stakeholders consider higher education completion and non-completion for economy, growth, and social justice. It also emphasizes that to increase the number of graduates with a tertiary degree it is not sufficient to increase the intake of students. Retention becomes equally important.
In OECD, on average almost a third of the higher education students do not complete their first degree. However, this average varies between, for instance, countries and study programmes (OECD, 2013).
Previous research has found that there is not one single explanation for student non-completion (Yorke & Longden, 2004). It is a decision that is made over time and affected by both pre-entry factors and by the students’ social and academic integration at higher education (Tinto, 1993). Hence, retention also depends on what identity the student can construct within the programme (Ulriksen, Madsen, & Holmegaard, 2010).
To grasp the different factors affecting student completion, it is imperative to adopt diverse methodological approaches: quantitative, qualitative, and longitudinal methods. This symposium brings together studies from four European countries, offering the opportunity to compare findings and experiences from different national and cultural contexts. The papers adopt different methodological approaches that open for various perspectives on understanding drop-out in higher education, including longitudinal qualitative and quantitative approaches, administrative register data, etc.
The first paper in this symposium sets the scene by exploring to what extent the increased uptake of students in higher education combined with lower institutional resources have a negative effect on drop out. The second paper explores how the culture and structure of a particular study programme (Physics) provide a particular framework for the students reflecting on their choice of leaving. The third paper identifies types of students, their study patterns and field of study and categorises groups with a particular risk of dropping out. Finally, the forth paper explores how the economic crisis and concomitant financial constraints affect dropout rates.
Together, these papers allow for a unique opportunity to explore differences and similarities concerning both reasons and risks for dropping out and how to research it.
OECD. (2013). Education at a Glance 2013: OECD Indicators doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2013-en
Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving College. Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition. (Second ed.). Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.
Ulriksen, L., Madsen, L. M., & Holmegaard, H. T. (2010). What do we know about explanations for drop out/opt out among young people from STM higher education programmes? Studies in Science Education, 46(2), 209-244. doi: 10.1080/03057267.2010.504549
Yorke, M., & Longden, B. (2004). Retention and Student Success in Higher Education. Berkshire: Open University Press, McGrawHill Education.
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