Academic journal article International Education Studies

Higher Education Drop-Out in Spain-Particular Case of Universities in Galicia

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Higher Education Drop-Out in Spain-Particular Case of Universities in Galicia

Article excerpt


The existence of a high university dropout rate in Spain is undeniable. Data shows that approximately one out of five students drop out from college. During the economic expansion period (2001-2007) more students abandoned their studies than during the crisis period (2007-2011). This situation also affects unemployment rates due to the fact that higher education leads to lower unemployment rates. Galicia presented slightly higher dropout rates than Spain from 2006 to 2009; nevertheless during the 2009/2010 academic year this rate was lower. The reasons for dropout can be divided into six distinct factors: psycho educational, evolutionary, family, economic, institutional and social factors. The main drop-out motives are related, among others, to incompatibility with work, economy, university (environment, teachers and difficulties) and so on. According to the BBVA research, the dropout rate imposes a great cost on the entire economy reaching the sum of 5,772 euros per year and per student and exceeding the amount of 1,500 million euros if the student drops out during the first cycle. Due to the urgent need of reducing the dropout rate, the Ministry of Education developed an action plan to increase the number of young people enrolled in a higher education course; so that, consequently, Spain can redirect its economic growth model.

Keywords: dropout, students, higher education, socio-economic environment

1. Introduction

Education is one of the five priority objectives in the new European strategy, becoming one of the engines for economic growth and employment. The European Council has quantified a series of goals in order to improve the education levels in the year 2020. These goals pretend to reduce the dropout rate as well as to increment the population percentage between 30 and 34 years that complete third level education. In the case of Spain, the dropout reduction has been fixed at 15% for 2020 and it was established a 2020 national target of 44% for the tertiary attainment rate.

Several indicators try to study the causes of academic failure in Spain, especially in higher education at universities. Nowadays, this topic acquires an important relevance due to the high dropout rates that should be studied in order to reduce them. The dropout phenomenon is a parameter difficult to assess because of the lack of information and data from the students after they have left their studies. However, the study of this topic is currently being introduced in different reports that allow us to extract important conclusions that must be taken into account in the decision making of the university policy. In addition, the provisional data shows that the percentage of students that drop out from college is smaller compared to previous years and a slight decline is expected in coming years (fact that is directly related to the reduction of the population between 18 and 24 years old.) This trend is more prevalent in engineering and architecture students, degrees that in the last ten years have lost one out of four students. It is also significant and alarming the decrease in the science branch. Particularly, in Galicia the rate of students that enroll in higher education during the last ten years presents was reduced to almost 30%. The evaluation of certain university indicators frequently used, such as performance, success and evaluation rates, are linked to enrolled, presented and passed credits. Therefore, the analysis of these available data is relative simple because it only takes into account those students who continue or have finished their studies. However, from recent years it has been considered important to study other indicators that take into account those students who start but who do not continue their academic career. This has led to the current research on the dropout rate. Spanish institutions and researchers try to quantify this rate as well as to investigate about the possible causes of this phenomenon. …

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