structural factors

21 May 2020


The extent of dropout from higher education is a cause for concern in much of the Western world, especially because, despite the large amounts of money and resources invested over the last two decades, dropout rates have remained almost unchanged. In view of this, the aim of this research is to identify and analyse the factors with the greatest impact on dropout in the three higher education centres in Rivera (Uruguay), which are affected by unfavourable socio-academic contexts. A qualitative methodology was used, based on survey techniques, in-depth interviews, and a focus group, using the 2014 cohorts as units of analysis. These included students who were still studying and others who had dropped out at the time of the empirical work (2016). The main finding of the research was that in unfavourable socioacademic contexts, as in the case in Rivera, the explanatory chain for dropout from higher education is very different from the one for more favourable contexts. Indeed, poor academic performance, which often precedes dropping out, happens because students do not study enough, and this can largely be explained by them having little motivation for their chosen programmes because they have enrolled on courses that are not what they would have chosen if they had the chance to take their preferred subject, something they were prevented from doing by the limited range on offer near where they live. The main conclusion is that the structural conditions in unfavourable socio-academic contexts, especially the limited range of programmes, are a powerful explanatory factor for dropout from higher education, especially in the first year.



This is the English version of an article originally printed in Spanish in issue 276 of the revista española de pedagogía. For this reason, the abbreviation EV has been added to the page numbers. Please, cite this article as follows: Acevedo Calamet, F. (2020). Factores explicativos del abandono de los estudios en la educación superior en contextos socio-académicos desfavorables | Explanatory factors for dropout from higher education in unfavourable socio-academic contexts. Revista Española de Pedagogía, 78 (276), 253-270. doi: