The financial and educational outcomes of Bachelor degree non-completers

Michael Luckman and Andrew Harvey (Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research, La Trobe University)

Published in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management
5 December 2018


Student attrition is an area of constant concern for higher education managers and policymakers alike, yet little is known of the outcomes of those who depart higher education prematurely. We examine the educational and financial outcomes of students who start, but do not complete, a Bachelor-level course using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. We find that the number of non-completers is remarkably high, but also that the majority of Bachelor non-completers have completed some other form of tertiary-level qualification. Consistent with other research, we also find that Bachelor non-completers report higher incomes than those who have not attempted a Bachelor degree. The results suggest that the current sectoral focus on preventing student attrition is limited. Further strategies are required to re-engage students who have withdrawn from higher education and to understand the trajectories of partial completers and the impacts of partial completion.

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Posted 25 January 2019 By ncsehe