22 SES 08 D, Access to and drop-out of academia
Dropout, particularly in the transition from Upper Secondary to Higher Education (HE), meaning a loss of human capital investment is a serious problem, mainly in countries like Portugal where investment in human capital is crucial for fostering economic growth.
In Portugal this loss in the transition and in Higher Education trajectory leads to a number of "graduates" still far below European average levels.
Previous studies showed evidence of a great diversity of factors responsible for dropout or delay in Higher Education enrollment.
Among these factors, educational and economic characteristics of the family of origin, previous school failure trajectory, young and /or their families’ motivation.
Fewer studies have focused on the role of public policies to foster enrollment in HE. In Portugal there is a lack of well-defined and consistent strategy to promote transition to HE although the current socialist cabinet had set as a priority the increase in the number of graduates.
A possible explanation for the declining trend in the number of HE enrollments is a decrease in unemployment for those with a Secondary School degree due to the economic growth of the last three years.
Several national and international surveys of students and families, such as the Eurostudent last edition, pointed to economic reasons as the main factor in dropout or delay in HE enrollment. It is the 2nd more important reason in the average of the European MMSE, but the most important among Portuguese students. Among Portuguese students lack of motivation appears as the 2nd more important but with percentage higher than the European average value.
This fact suggests that psycho-sociological theories of self-determination and self-efficacy might be helpful as a theoretical explanatory framework, too.
The serious economic crisis from 2008 to 2015 contributed to aggravate the weight of the critical binomial - income shortage * degree of motivation but the economic growth felt since 2016 doesn´t seem to have reversed it.
Our main research questions are concerned with the impact of the new economic cycle on:
- the evolution of dropout after Secondary graduation and delay in HE enrollment;
- the relative weight of the main factors of this evolution, namely the binomial - income shortage * degree of motivation;
- the extent to which public social policies mitigated or worsened that negative impact of the economic crisis.
 Keller, Tamas, (2015)
There is a huge literature about dropout in Higher Education but less focuses in the transition period. Literature about this topic examines the main determinants that affect access to Higher Education, mainly family economic status, previous school trajectory and motivation. Fewer studies focuses on Public policies.
It was found that gender and race [Ingels et al. (2002), Cross & Slater (2002)], High School track, academic performance and social support, family socio economic background have impact on Higher Education access. Dropout and delay in the transition is surely driven by affordability but also by the lower expectations less educated parents have for their children. Some don’t know how to prepare their children for Higher Education challenges. Mismatch between information and expectations regarding degree and college choice turns Secondary to Higher Education transition more difficult too.
 Dropout and Completion in Higher Education in Europe - Europa(2015), Hällsten, Martin (2017).
 Goldrick-Rab, S. et al (2007), Araque, F. et al.(2009), Siri, A. et al (2016).
 Parker, et al. (2004), Kusurkar, et al., (2013), Kyndt, et al., (2015)
 St. John & Asker (2003),
 Glen (2004), Walpole(2003), Belley, P. & Lochner, L. (2007),.
 Rosenbaum & Person (2003)
We use data collected from two surveys launched by the Statistics Department of the Education Ministry answered by Upper Secondary students who enrolled in year t and conclude the grade in t+2. The two surveys are answered by the same students. The first survey was launched just before the end of Upper Secondary Education and the second one 14 months later. We merged the two databases into one who has information about 13200 youngsters and more than 1000 variables covering all the characteristics in the several dimensions above mentioned. We have information from these two surveys for years 2013 , the peak of the crisis period and 2017/8, period characterized by a positive trend in economic growth and overall economic situation. An exploratory data analysis is carried to analyze the values of dropout and delay in the transition from Upper Secondary to HE and the weight of main risk factors in the two periods. We used chi-square independent tests and t-tests for the proportion or mean differences between the values of the more important variables in the two periods to find if there are significant differences in the impact of those factors between the periods above mentioned.
Based on individual data, we expect to confirm the hypothesis that family socioeconomic background, previous school trajectory, and mismatch between expectations and reality and motivation are among the main dropout risk factors both during the crisis and after the economic cycle reverted. We didn’t expect the weight of those factors on dropout and delay in the transition to have decreased significantly between the two periods. These expectations are justified by the analysis of major macroeconomic trends. These reveal that the main factors blocking the entry of Portuguese Upper Secondary graduated students into HE are the lack of income to cover direct costs (accommodation, food) and lack of motivation. They also show a significant decrease in the weight of HE public expenditure on GDP / pc which didn´t recover yet from the negative evolution during the crisis and the government investment in HE social policy through the decrease in the number of scholarships granted.
Araque, F.; Roldán , C.; Salguero, A. (2009), “Factors influencing university drop out rates”, Computers & Education 53 (2009) 563–574. Belley, P. & Lochner, L. (2007), "The Changing Role of Family Income and Ability in Determining Educational Achievement" Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 37-89. DGEEC: Direcção Geral de Estatísticas de Educação e Ciência (2018), , Perfil do aluno EC – Eurostat Database - https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/database EC (European Commission), (2018), Social and Economic Conditions of Student Life in Europe. Eurostudent VI 2016-2018. Goldrick-Rab, S.; Carter, D.; Wagner, R. (2007), “What Higher Education Has to Say About Transition to College”, Teachers College Record volume 109, number 10, October, pp.2444-2481. Hällsten ,M.(2017), “Is Education a Risky Investment? The Scarring Effect of University Dropout in Sweden”, Euro Sociologic Review (2017) jcw053.DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/esr/jcw053 . Keller, T., (2015), Talented But Unaware? An Analysis of the Role of Self-Assessment in Educational Transition, Budapest Working Papers on the Labour Market. Kusurkar, R. A., Ten, C., Ollen, J., Vos, C.M., P. Westers, & G. Croiset, (2013). “How motivation affects academic performance: A structural equation modelling analysis”, Advances in Health Sciences Education, 18, 57-69. Kyndt, E., Coertiens, L., Daal, T., Donche, V., Gijbels. D. & Van Petegem, P. (2015), “The development of students' motivation in the transition from secondary to higher education: A longitudinal study”, Learning and Individual Differences, vol. 39: 114-123. Parker, J.D.A., Summerfeldt, L. J., Hogan, M. J. & Majeski, S. A. (2004), Emotional intelligence and academic success: examining the transition from high school to university, Personality and Individual Differences, 36:163-172. Rosenbaum, J.E. & Person, A.E. (2003), “Beyond college for all: Policies and practices to improve transition into college and jobs”, Professional School Counseling, 6(4), 252-260. Seco, G. (Coord.), Casimiro, M., Pereira, M.I., Dias, M.I., Custódio, S. (2005), Para uma abordagem psicológica da transição do Ensino Secundário para o Ensino Superior: pontes e alçapões, Instituto Politécnico de Leiria. Siri, Anna. et al (2016), “Mind the gap between high school and university! A field qualitative survey at the National University of Caaguazú (Paraguay)”, Advances in Medical Education and practice, 7 pp. 301-308. St. John, E.P. & Asker, E.H. (2003), Refinancing the college dream: access, equal opportunity, and justice for tax payers, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. Walpole, M. (2003), “Socioeconomic status and college: How SES affects college experiences and outcomes”, Review of Higher Education, vol. 27(1), 45-73.
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