The current study aims to explore the drop-out trends at Sultan Qaboos University and Kuwait University. Archival data of the period 2000-2011 were used to achieve this goal. Main findings showed that (a) male drop-out rates are higher than female drop-out rates; (b) dropout rates at scientific colleges are higher; (c) drop-out rates of students with higher school GPAs are higher; (d) drop-out rates at KU are higher in freshman and sophomore years, while at SQU they are higher in junior and senior years. These findings are discussed in the appropriate context. Relevant recommendations are included.
Keywords: student drop-out, drop-out trends
All higher-education institutions have the problem of students who drop out and never drop back in, and almost all those institutions allocate considerable resources on programs meant to face the problem (Tinto, 1999, 2004). All universities are expected to keep students until graduation since student retention has been shown to have several benefits: reducing financial loss, enhancing a university's reputation, increasing a university's effectiveness, among others (Simpson, 2005; Tinto, 1999). Therefore, retention rates have become a focus in all universities around the globe as student drop-out rates are not displaying a promising trend (Tinto, 2012).
The ability to identify those students who are likely to drop out, prior to the act of dropping out, can help gain insights into which trends better predict drop-out decisions and would allow admission policy makers to allocate existing retention resources more effectively (Tinto, 2012). Ultimately, by knowing which drop-out trends control drop-out and retention flows, those who are concerned with the issue of students dropping out would be able to take action in a way that would provide most students with the necessary tools to excel and remain to complete their academic programs.
The current study focuses on five factors: sex, school's GPA, college's GPA, college's type, and years prior to withdrawal. These factors represent the most commonly recurring factors influencing student withdrawal as they play a significant role in students dropping out (for elaboration, see Altonji, 1993; Bean, 1980; Egwu & Anyanwu, 2010; Lehmann, 2007; McMillan, 2005; Ohio University, 2011; Snyder, Hackett, & Stewart, 2002; Stratton, O'Toole, & Wetzel, 2007; Tinto, 2012).
The Statement of the Problem
Student drop-out rates do not show a positive trend at Sultan Qaboos University and Kuwait University as the rates are increasing over the years (Al-Ghanboosi et al., 2009; Alqahtani & Alazmi, 2011; Kuwait University, 2010). The two institutions have few methods to systematically identify students at risk of dropping out. The ability to identify those students prior to dropping out and to help get a clear picture of classifying trends that would allow both universities to examine their existing admission and retention policies more effectively is vital for higher education institutions.
Although the drop-out rates at both universities are acceptable compared with international universities (Drea, 2004; Gabb, Milne, & Cao, 2006; Johnston, 2005; Meeuwisse, Severiens, & Born, 2010; Ohio University, 2011), the cost of dropping out in this area of the world is different. As education in both countries, Oman and Kuwait, is free, it puts a considerable burden on the treasury (Alqahtani & Alazmi, 2011). The cost, for both universities and individuals, of dropping out is increasing and negatively affects future plans for student enrollment.
Based on the above-mentioned clues, the purpose of the current study is to draw a picture of student drop-out trends at SQU and KU. To fulfill this purpose, the researchers use data from annually published records at both universities, and information of withdrawals obtained from a database of student records for the period 2001-2011 at the Deanships of Admissions and Registration at both universities. …