An econometric analysis of student withdrawal and progression in post-reform Italian Universities

TitleAn econometric analysis of student withdrawal and progression in post-reform Italian Universities
Publication TypeWorking Paper
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsG. Boero, T. Laureti, R. Naylor
Number2005_04
Keywordsdropping out, probit models, student progression, university reform
Abstract

As in much of Europe, and in the particular context of the Bologna Convention on tertiary education, the Italian university system has experienced substantial reform in recent years, the major aims of which include increasing the participation, progression and retention rates of students in higher education. Reform has reduced the length of undergraduate degree programmes to three years with the intention that students should be able to graduate at an earlier age than in the past, in line with graduates from other European countries. This paper offers a first econometric analysis of student withdrawal and progression three years after the introduction of major reform. We use administrative data on students of two Italian universities in a probit model of the probability that the student drops out, and an OLS model of student progression. Our analyses suggest that, notwithstanding the reforms, the drop-out (withdrawal) rate is still very high and only a small proportion of students are likely to complete their studies within the institutional time. In particular, we find that differences in students’ prior educational background and performance have remarkably large effects on their withdrawal and progression probabilities. We infer from our results that poor retention and completion rates of Italian university students are unlikely to improve without further significant institutional change.

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