Gaps in persistence under open-access and tuition-free public higher education policies
Keywords:Higher education public policies, Dropout, Graduation, Higher education, Argentina
The massification of Argentine higher education intensified in the context of open-access and tuition free public university policies. Although Argentina stands out in relation to enrollment in higher education, it faces serious problems in terms of retention and graduation. To study the factors associated with dropout in the higher education system, we use the Permanent Household Survey, or EPH, to measure these phenomena. The EPH is a quarterly national survey that systematically and permanently collects data on the population’s demographic, educational, labor and socioeconomic characteristics. Based on the EPH, we calculated the global dropout and graduation rates by socioeconomic status and gender and used logistic regression models to estimate the effect of some demographic, socioeconomic, institutional and financial factors on dropout probability. Among the main findings, we observed that the socioeconomic status and being a first-generation student matter. We detected that being a first-generation student, even after controlling for the socioeconomic status of the student’s household, gender, the type of institution (tertiary non-university or university) and having a scholarship, implies a higher probability of dropout. We conclude that these results are most germane to public policy design and possible replications of this methodology in other Latin American countries.