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The Socio-Economic Gap in University Drop Out

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  • N Powdthavee
  • A Vignoles

Abstract

It has been shown in the recent literature on widening participation that in England a disadvantaged pupil has as much a chance of attending a university as a more advantaged student, provided that s/he manages to reach a sufficient level of achievement at the secondary school level. This finding leads to an important conclusion of no genuine socio-economic gap in university participation once prior attainments have been taken into account. The current article investigates whether the same conclusion can be reached with respect to university drop-out. Using a combination of school and higher education administrative data sets, we are able to show that there is indeed a sizeable and statistically significant gap in the rate of withdrawal after the first year of university between the most advantaged and disadvantaged English students. This socio-economic gap in university drop-out remains even after allowing for their personal characteristics, prior achievement and institution choice. Our results thus suggest that the use of raw drop out rates in the English university 'league table' as one of the main indicators of university efficiency can be quite misleading given that the ranking of universities by drop out rate would change markedly if the prior attainment of students were taken fully into account.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of York in its series Discussion Papers with number 08/23.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:yor:yorken:08/23

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Keywords: Drop out rate; Higher Education; Prior achievement; Socio-economic gap.;

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Cited by:
  1. Elias Katsikas & Theodore Panagiotidis, 2010. "Student Status and Academic Performance: an approach of the quality determinants of university studies in Greece," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe, Hellenic Observatory, LSE 40, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  2. Steve Gibbons & Anna Vignoles, 2009. "Access, Choice and Participation in Higher Education," CEE Discussion Papers, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE 0101, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.

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