Being poor linked to dropping out of uni

Graduates, dropouts and slow finishers - how financial hardship effects university outcomes.

New research by La Trobe University shows the poorer you are as a student, the harder it is to finish a degree.

The analysis also shows that after 3 years of study, the dropout rate rises among hard up students while falling for all others.

Lead author La Trobe Economics Associate Professor Buly Cardak says this is likely linked to time limits on Youth Allowance payments.

'These findings are not good news. There's a clear link between how financially secure a student is and their ability to finish a degree.

'We are calling on policy makers to look at ways to provide additional support to students struggling financially and help them finish their course and improve their work and life opportunities.

Other significant statistics in the research around student dropout decisions include:

  • high school achievement, measured by ATAR. A 10 percentage point higher ATAR reduces dropout and slow finishing probabilities by 2.3% and 3.0% respectively, and raises graduation probabilities by 5.3%.
  • Part time status is an important factor in the dropout decision, raising the probability of dropping out by 12.7% for those undertaking their whole degree part time.
  • A student's perception that they are suited to student life is found to raise graduation probabilities by more than 9%. This important finding implies that universities can achieve a lot in terms of student success through building a more inclusive student centred culture in their institutions.

The research is co-authored with Joe Vecci of Monash University and has just been published in the Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics.

Read comprehensive coverage of the research in The Saturday Age article

Media Catherine Garrett; 9479 6565 // 0418  964 325

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