Influence of social background on the educational and occupational reorientation after higher education dropout

Start of the project: 01-Jan-2018 - End of the project: 31-Dec-2018

The German education and training system is severely influenced by social inequalities especially in regard to social background. Social background influences educational choices and educational returns alike and is thus a substantial factor for the distribution of opportunities at every stage in the educational system. The risk of dropping out of a study programme also varies based on social background and the associated educational choices prior to the start of the studies. Further, the resulting educational inequalities affect areas that lie beyond the educational system and hence lead to disparate vocational pathways and achievements.

In regard to the persisting inequalities within the (German) educational and training system that are ascribed to social background, questions arise as to the effect of these inequalities on educational and professional development after higher education drop-out. This requires a reevaluation and an individually complex decision making process in terms of possible future educational and professional pathways. It can be assumed that during this time of reorientation, social background once again proofs to be influential.

The research project addresses this connection. The overall aim of the project is to analyse the influence of social background on the educational and vocational reorientation process after drop-out from higher education. The following questions shall be pursued in particular:

  • Does social background influence the intention to pick up a new study programme after a prior drop-out?
  • Does the social background of individuals that opt for vocational training after dropping out of higher education influence the type and level of vocational training as well as the duration of the transitional period?
  • Does social background have an effect on the duration of the reorientation process after drop-out?

Especially the type of vocational and educational reorientation and the duration of the transitional process are, dependent on social background, important determinants that have an effect on the equality of opportunities. A difference in making up for a drop-out from higher education with another degree that qualifies for a profession based on social background implies great scientific, public, and political notability.

Data by the nationwide representative survey of graduates of the 2014 summer semester by the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW) is used for this project.

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Senior Researcher

Nancy Kracke
Dr. Nancy Kracke Senior Researcher 0341 962765-35


Sören Isleib Carolin Otto

Press contact

Daniel Matthes
Daniel Matthes +49 511 450670-532
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