November 2002

IZA DP No. 655: Effects of In-Class Variation and Student Rank on the Probability of Withdrawal: Cross-Section and Time-Series Analysis for UK University Students

published in: Economics of Education Review, 2005, 24 (3), 251-262

From individual-level data for nine entire cohorts of undergraduate students in UK universities, we estimate the probability that an individual will drop out of university during their first-year. We examine the 1984-85 to 1992-93 cohorts of students enrolling full-time for a three or four-year course, and focus on the sensitivity of the probability of withdrawal to the individual’s prior qualifications relative to those of the other students in their university course. We show not only that weaker students are more likely to withdraw but also that the extent of variation in prior qualifications within the student’s university degree course exerts an influence on the individual's probability of withdrawal in a way that varies with the individual’s own in-class rank.