22 SES 01 B, Drop-outs in Higher Education
The aim of our presentation is the examination of the temporal changes, social-spatial inequalities and organizational differentiation of student dropout, which causes a relatively large-scale loss in human and economic capital on social, individual and institutional levels. Our aim is the identification of high attrition-risk degree programmes and the comparison of non-persistent and persistent students in terms of social status and demographic, territorial and regional characteristics. The further aim is to seek for the predictors of dropout that precede HE application (secondary education performance data, mechanisms of career choice decisions etc.). By investigating the main milestones and difficulties of higher education career (requirements and success of entry, changing majors, procrastination, financing, employment, typical dropout periods) we plan to identify typical dropout scenarios.
HE systems can be characterized in international comparison based on social inequalities in access to universities and graduation. There are twice as many students with higher social status as students with lower social status in mass higher education. The fact that it is only one tenth of students with lower social status succeed in graduating (Fónai, 2012, Vossensteyn, Stensaker & Kottmann, 2015). The lack of graduation is a serious problem. Leaving aside the exceeding the reasonable length of time, the rate of graduation is approximately 50-85 %, but it is much lower even if we can see the planned period required for completion of the training (Barefoot, 2004; Fokkens-Bruinsma & Jansen, 2009; Hovdhaugen, 2009; Gairín, Triado, Feixas, Figuera, Apparicio-Chueca & Torrado, 2014; OECD, 2016). The Hungarian social and educational processes including HE as well can show a significant degree of exclusion (Eurofound 2017, Csepeli 2016).
One of the consequences arising from the Hungarian social history is the conflict between the different groups of the middle class and the existence of the strong dividing lines between the middle class (included the intellectuals) and the other social groups. Some of the Hungarian middle class consider themselves intellectuals and they seek to endorse the classical intellectual values and prevent the privileged social positions. This has effect on the dropout from HE because the phenomenon “dropout” is lower among the students with higher social status due to the similarities arising from their social groups and the culture of their universities.
The sociology of intellectuals offers us a special approach to the phenomenon of dropout. This aspect can interconnect the dropout with a cancelled social mobility because a degree can generate higher social status and it can move the students towards to middle class position. The rate of students with lower parental educational level (’non-traditional students’) has been changed during the process of the expansion – this rate was about 51% in Hungary in 2014 according to the Eurostudent database (Garai & Kiss 2014). These students have deficiencies in several fields – for example the aggregation of the different forms of capitals (Pusztai 2015). It is questionable whether the institution can compensate this lack or not. In the world of mass higher education system this compensation toward the intellectuals’ habitus and activities can work less (Bocsi 2016). In a crisis of dropout situation these missing components (deficit in financial sources or networks etc.) are not available for students from lower social strata. The possible reduction of these students’ dropout rate can raise the openness of the society’s level because the higher rate of disadvantageous students increases the extent of the intergenerational mobility (Berlinger & Megyeri 2015).
In the frame of „Social and institutional factors of student dropout in higher education” project (led by Prof. Gabriella Pusztai, OTKA project, no. 123847) 16 interviews were made in the Autumn of 2017. The type of the interviews was semi structural, and it contains three main parts: childhood and family, early educational career (elementary and medium level) and the young adulthood with the phenomenon of dropout. The framework of the interviews is based on the chance of the dropout according the special literature (in the field of family background, peer networks, presence of labour market, the elements of academic withdrawal etc.) (Tinto 1975) and we have focused on the students’ life path after the dropout. We have tried to cover the different disciplines and institutes of the country during the selection of the selection of the participants in research. We suppose that distances can be identified between the educational career path of intellectual students from the first generation and students with higher educational degree. Moreover we assume that dropout is not an eventual secession from the HE institutions and the plans of social mobility or degree. The novelty of the research methodology is based on the connection of two large-scale comprehensive statistical databases, supplemented by the data of a joint analysis of interview and questionnaire survey. The use of mixed and multiple data methods provides a better approach to a widespread and complex phenomenon in education than the use of a single method. The main features of the qualitative method (interviews) have been shown before. The dimensions of the questionnaire survey are the following: school career, family background, institutional effect, financial and cultural effect, career guidance, competitive activities (studying, sport, free time and work), social background. The research is carried out in the institutions of the North-East Hungary and the surrounding countries (Romania, Ukraine).
The high parental level is not so typical among our interviewees – we can not find students whose both parents are graduated. In the case of students with higher social strata the decision about further education is not questionable and the educational careers move clearly the students toward HE institutions. But we can find the signs of the wrong career choices and the missing information. Students from lower strata often have the features of the typical resilient life path and socialisation – the education is very important value in the family but the attitude toward school is not clear-cut in every case (e.g.: education and degree is important but the parents can not tell why). The dropout is not a short process, sometimes we can detect two or three attempts to have a degree in different institutions or training courses. This is not an eventual secession from HE in neither group because almost every student is planning to have a degree. We can read through the texts of the interviews that further education and the phenomenon of social mobility have interlocked. The rates of the drop-out are alternating during the quantitative research (2014-2016). 15% of student population did not complate the minimum level of requirements. The main reasons for the underachievment are the following: inaproriate learning techniques gained in public education, the lack of self-correction and poor adaptive skills. According to Fenyves et al. (2017) the higher education institutions can provide some tools which can reduce the rate of drop-out by means of specific courses and supplementary materials. These courses and supplementary materials can help practice, the check of the level of knowledge and independent self-evaluation.
Barefoot, Betsy, O. (2004): Higher education's revolving door: Confronting the problem of student dropout in US colleges and universities. Open Learning. 19:1. 9–18. Berlinger Edina & Megyeri Krisztina (2015): Mélyszegénységből a felsőoktatásba. (From Extreme Poverty to Higher Education). Közgazdasági Szemle. 62:June. 674-699. Bocsi, Veronika (2016): Elmozdulás az értelmiségi lét felé. (Shift to the Intellectual Lifestyle). Pusztai Gabriella, Bocsi Veronika & Ceglédi Tímea (eds.): A felsőoktatás (hozzáadott) értéke: Közelítések az intézményi hozzájárulás empirikus megragadásához. Nagyvárad. Budapest: Partium – PPS – Új Mandátum, pp. 137-149. Csepeli, György (2016): A Z nemzedék lehetséges életpályái. Educatio. 25:4. 509-515. Eurofound (2017). Social Mobility in the EU. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Fenyves Veronika, Bácsné Bába Éva, Szabóné Szőke Réka, Kocsis Imre, Juhász Csaba, Máté Endre & Pusztai Gabriella (2017): Kísérlet a lemorzsolódás mértékének és okainak megragadására a Debreceni Egyetem Gazdaságtudományi Kar példáján. (An attempt to capture the degree and causes of drop-out at the University of Debrecen Faculty of Economics. Neveléstudomány 5:3. 5-15. Fokkens-Bruinsma, Marjon & Jansen Ellen (2009): When will I succeed in my first-year diploma? Survival analysis in Dutch higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 28:1. 99–114. Fónai, Mihály (2012): The Relationship Between Socio-economic Status and Educational Progress. In: Kozma, Tamás – Bernáth, Krisztina (eds): Higher Education in the Romania – Hungary Cross-Border Area. Oradea - Debrecen: Partium Press–CHERD, pp. 13-32 Gairín, Joaquín, Triado, Xavier M., Feixas, Monica, Figuera, Pilar, Aparicio-Chueca, Pilar, Torrado, Mercedes (2014). Student dropout rates in Catalan universities: profile and motives for disengagement. Quality in Higher Education. 20:2. 165-182. Garai, Orsolya & Kiss, László (2014): Eurostudent V. Magyarországi eredmények. (Eurostudent V. Hungarian Data) In. Kiss László (eds): A felsőoktatás szociális dimenziója. Az Eurostudent V. magyarországi eredményei. Budapest: Educatio Kft. pp. 5-26. Hovdhaugen Elisabeth (2009): Transfer and dropout: different forms of student departure in Norway. Studies in Higher Education. 34:1. 1-17. Pusztai, Gabriella (2015): Tőkeelméletek az oktatáskutatásban. (Capital Theories in the Educational Research) In: Varga Aranka (Eds): A nevelésszociológia alapjai. Pécs: PTE BTK, pp. 137-160. Tinto, Vincent (1975): Dropout from Higher Education. A Theoretical Synthesis of Recent Research. Review of Educational Research. 45:1. 89-125. Vossensteyn, Hans, Stensaker, Bjorn, Kottmann, Andrea, Hovdhaugen, Elisbeth, Jongbloed, Ben, Wollscheid, Sabine, Kaiser, Franz & Cremonini, Leon (2015): Dropout and Completion in Higher Education in Europe. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
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