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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.

Suggested Citation

  • N Powdthavee & A Vignoles, 2008. "The Socio-Economic Gap in University Drop Out," Discussion Papers 08/23, Department of Economics, University of York.
  • Handle: RePEc:yor:yorken:08/23
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sylke V. Schnepf, 2015. "University dropouts and labor market success," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 182-182, September.
    2. Steve Gibbons & Anna Vignoles, 2009. "Access, Choice and Participation in Higher Education," CEE Discussion Papers 0101, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
    3. 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 40, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
    4. Elias Katsikas & Theologos Dergiades, 2012. "Revising higher education policy in Greece: filling the Danaids’ Jar," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 279-292, August.
    5. Elias Katsikas & Theodore Panagiotidis, 2011. "Student Status and Academic Performance: Accounting for the Symptom of Long Duration of Studies in Greece," Discussion Paper Series 2011_04, Department of Economics, University of Macedonia, revised Mar 2011.
    6. Elias Katsikas & Theologos Dergiades, 2009. "Higher Education Policy in Greece: Filling the Danaids' Jar," Discussion Paper Series 2009_16, Department of Economics, University of Macedonia, revised Nov 2009.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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