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Success/Failure in Higher Education:how long does it take to complete some core 1st. year disciplines?


  • Chaga Lopes, Margarida
  • Fernandes, Graca


Despite the enormous increasing in Higher Education (HE) enrolment during the last decades in Portugal, retention rates remain very high when compared to most European Union countries'.This outcome is particularly meaningful for a set of 1st year's critical matters which failure severely conditions subsequent success as they are part of the scientific domain's basic knowledge.In this paper we investigate this feature for ISEG (School of Economics and Management of the Technical University of Lisbon) and consider its Pedagogic Observatory database which includes more than 1,500 individual data relative to the four graduation programmes. As relative failure expresses frequently under the form of longer time spells needed to complete thgose disciplines in this paper we adjusted a duration model (with control group)in order to assess the main determinants of the "survival" probabilities. After having controlled for ability, the results we obtained from Cox Regression show that the economic and social status of the family of origin, especially mother's and father's school level and occupation go on influencing students' results although not so meaningfully as in previous educational phases. Also the specific graduation track - Economics, Management, Mathematics applied to Economics & Management and Finances - appear to be deeply associated with success or retention. Nevertheless, the main determinant of relative success/failure is the student's situation towards the labour market, a meaningful proportion of them having to perform a paid occupation to afford to pay for education costs. Therefore our policy reccommendations are twofold: i) to shed light on the need for a more robust Government's Social Policy towards HE students especially now that the Bologna Reform imposes an heavier budgetary burden upon students; ii)to emphasize the finantial, organizational and syllabuses' reforms that HE institutions need to develope in order to capture and keep the "new publics" namely adult students for whom combining study and paid work represents the only available funding source.

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  • Chaga Lopes, Margarida & Fernandes, Graca, 2010. "Success/Failure in Higher Education:how long does it take to complete some core 1st. year disciplines?," MPRA Paper 21953, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:21953

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    1. repec:cep:sticas:/123 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Philippe Belley & Lance Lochner, 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.
    3. Ammermüller, Andreas, 2005. "Educational Opportunities and the Role of Institutions," ZEW Discussion Papers 05-44, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    4. Chagas Lopes, Margarida & Medeiros, João, 2004. "School Failure and Intergenerational “Human Capital” Transmission in Portugal," MPRA Paper 26764, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereaux & Kjell Salvanes, 2004. "Fast Times at Ridgemont High? The Effect of Compulsory Schooling Laws on Teenage Births," NBER Working Papers 10911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Plug, Erik, 2002. "How Do Parents Raise the Educational Attainment of Future Generations?," IZA Discussion Papers 652, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Margarida Chagas Lopes, 2007. "Time to Complete a Pos-graduation: some evidence of “school effect” upon ISCED 6 trajectories," Working Papers Department of Economics 2007/07, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
    8. Chagas Lopes, Margarida & Medeiros, João & PINTO, AQUILES, 2005. "Does School Improve Equity? Some Key Findings from Portuguese Data," MPRA Paper 26762, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chagas Lopes, Margarida & Leao Fernandes, Graça, 2011. "Interruptions and failure in higher education: evidence from ISEG-UTL," MPRA Paper 34227, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Lopes, Margarida & Fernandes, Graça, 2012. "A comprehensive approach towards academic failure: the case of Mathematics I in ISEG graduation," MPRA Paper 42367, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Higher Education; Critical Matters; Time to successfully complete; Duration Models; Finantial Constraints; Portugal.;

    JEL classification:

    • A22 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Undergraduate
    • A23 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Graduate
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • A2 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics

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