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Dropping out of university: A statistical analysis of the probability of withdrawal for UK university students

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From individual level data for an entire cohort of undergraduate students in the ‘old’ universities in the UK, we use a binomial probit model to estimate the probability that an individual will ‘drop out’ of university before the completion of their degree course. We examine the cohort of students enrolling full time for a 3- or 4-year degree in the academic year 1989–1990. We find evidence to support both the hypothesis that the completion of courses by students is influenced by the extent of prior academic preparedness and the hypothesis that social integration at university is important. We also find an influence of unemployment in the county of prior residence, especially for poorer male students. Finally, we draw conclusions regarding the public policy of constructing university performance indicators in this area.

Keywords: Probit estimation; Student drop-out (non-completion) probabilities; University graduates; University performance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

Publication date: 2001-02-01

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