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News - Research Project ABANREDES

Why is the university dropout rate higher in the archipelagos than in the rest of Spain?

Report by María Fernández-Mellizo

3 nov 2023 - 11:45 CET

El Español periódico


- This study arises as a more detailed investigation to deepen the findings that the author found in a previous research carried out for the Ministry of Universities.

- University dropout rates in the Canary Islands are 18% and in the Balearic Islands 14%, higher than the 11% for Spain as a whole. In all cases, the highest risk of dropout occurs after the first year of university and the main explanatory factor is the lower academic performance in the first year.

- There are two explanations for the higher university dropout rate of students with families living in the archipelagos: on the one hand, their performance in the first year of university is worse than that of the rest of Spanish students; on the other hand, students from island universities tend to drop out more than the rest of the students.

- However, rather than the poor quality of island universities, the problem lies in a self-selection problem of the students who stay in the archipelagos: their academic transcript grades are lower and the socio-economic and cultural level of their families is lower. As a result of both factors, their risk of dropping out is higher.

- Nationwide,

students who "migrate" have a better academic and family situation, but the number of students who leave their home university is compensated by students coming from other universities. This is not the case in the island universities: far fewer students come from the rest of Spain.

- Another factor contributing to higher dropout rates in island universities is that, unlike in mainland universities, higher unemployment means higher dropout rates (income effect). The greater fragility of family economies in the Canary Islands may account for this relationship.

- The higher university dropout rate in the archipelagos cannot be explained by the argument of sun and beach tourism, by the higher costs of mobility due to insularity, or by inflated university admission grades.

- There are some groups of students from the archipelagos who are more likely to drop out than those from the rest of Spain, such as those with average-low academic performance or scholarship holders, especially those with lower incomes.

- In the Canary Islands, students from Gran Canaria are more likely to drop out than those from Tenerife or the rest of the islands. The latter go out more to study outside the Canary Islands because of the insufficient supply of studies on their islands of residence.

- Among students from the Canary Islands, those who stay on to study at Canarian universities are more likely to drop out than those who study abroad.

- Both in the Canary Islands and in the Balearic Islands, students who go to study outside the archipelagos are better from an academic point of view and of higher social origin than those who stay in the island universities, increasing the probability of the latter dropping out. Almost half of the students from the Balearic Islands go to study outside the Balearic Islands.

- The higher costs related to mobility due to insularity are compensated, in both archipelagos, by the profile of students who move to study, which is less likely to drop out.

- There are some features of university policy that may encourage students to leave the archipelagos, such as mobility grants or the offer of studies at island universities, which is deficient in branches with low dropout rates, such as Health Sciences.

- The relationship between admission marks and student performance at university is different in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. Although in neither case can we speak of inflated secondary school grades, in the Canary Islands the admission mark is a better predictor of student performance at university than in the Balearic Islands.

El Español periódico

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