Success rates in Portuguese Higher Education
de Almeida Alves, Nuno
ISCTE CIES Lisboa, Portugal
Higher Education is a major feature in contemporary European societies due to its strategic role in the training of highly qualified human resources, as well as in the creation of knowledge and research and development. However, the assessment of success rates of their undergraduate student population hasn?t been a priority to sociology of education or public policies research. The available indicators cover the gross enrolment ratio (proportion of tertiary education students enrolled in the age cohort 19-24), the universities? drop-out prevention and retention capacity and, finally, the system?s efficacy analysis, calculated through survival rate (?calculated as the ratio of the number of students who are awarded an initial degree to the number of new entrants to the level n years before, n being the number of years of full-time study required to complete the degree? - OECD, Education at a Glance, 2002).
None of these measures provides accurate data on the success rate in Higher Education. This presentation puts forward the proposal that this measure ought to be calculated considering the number of students that obtain a first degree in a given year and the number of years spent to obtain that same degree. Through these numbers, we will be able to estimate the absolute success rate, the relative success rate and estimate the drop-out rate. All these data will be further analysed taking institutional (Higher Education Institutions characteristics) and subject specific constraints (scientific and educational areas, courses demand) into consideration, factors that may largely contribute to the understanding and assessment of the results obtained. Some individual based arguments will also be considered, in order to illustrate specific issues of personal nature in the student?s paths that can be especially relevant.
This presentation is based in on the results obtained by the research project ?[Portuguese] Students and their trajectories through Higher Education: Success and Failure, Factors and Processes, Fostering Best Practices?, that was carried out in 2008, coordinated by António Firmino da Costa e João Miguel Teixeira Lopes.