Simona Mălăescu, Anamaria Ostace & Carmen Pop

Revisiting the Issue of Student Attrition in Tertiary Education: between Intention and Constraint 

Article information:
Volume IV 2020, No 2, Pages: 72-95
Simona Mălăescu, Anamaria Elena Ostace, Carmen Loredana Pop, University Babeș-Bolyai, Qualitas Centre & Centre for University Strategy, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Corespondent address:

Abstract: The issue of student attrition in tertiary education continues to represents nowadays a popular research topic with high stakes not only on the activities and performances of higher education institutions, but also on the labor market and society as a whole. Recently, considerable progress has been done in modelling and predicting student academic dropout at an early stage of their studies. These models enable mostly targeted interventions that have a rather indirect impact on student attrition. Replicating innovative methodologies sometimes requires statistical data regarding students that not all educational systems or institutions collect. In the absence of this data, surveying post-factum the students who dropped out, for some institutions, remains the most efficient method that provides insights into the reasons why students choose to discontinue their studies. This paper revisits the progress in literature up to date and focuses on a case-study including expelled students, which gives us direct insights into their decision-making process, their motivations and constraints at the moment of the decision or simply the cause for the dropout. The findings have a two-fold utility: on the one hand, they offer valuable information on which future administrative measures, once implemented, could offer better knowledge on the causes of student attrition in higher education; on the other hand, they offer four practical directions for managerial actions in order to address the issue in the future.
Keywords: tertiary education, student dropout, student attrition, higher education, primary dropout prevention

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