Mending the Master Programmes: An Effort to Improve Progression and Completion Rates in Graduate Education

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 8:00 PM
Room: Booth 42
Oral Presentation
Elisabeth HOVDHAUGEN , NIFU, Norway
Mari Wigum FRØSETH , NIFU-Nordic Institute for studies in education, research and innovation, Norway
Generally, studies of dropout and completion in higher education have been concerned with undergraduate education and little attention has been paid to graduate level.

The Bologna process has led to a introduction of reforms in higher education in several European countries. In Norway a comprehensive reform in higher education – the Quality Reform –was implemented in 2003. Two of the aims with this reform was to improve the students’ progression and completion in higher education. To achieve this, a number of changes regarding the structure and pedagogy in Norwegian higher education system were introduced.

This article addresses completion and dropout in Norwegian university graduate higher education before and after the reform, using register data consisting of the total population of students in one chort before the reform was implemented (the 1999-cohort) and one after (the 2005-cohort). The aim of the article is two-fold: to investigate if there are changes over time in completion rates and dropout rates in graduate university education, and if the changes can be interpreted as an effect of the comprehensive reform in Norwegian higher education implemented in 2003. To what extent can national translations of international reforms make changes in national completion rates?

Preliminary analyses, including important independent variables such as SES and gender, indicate that there has been an improvement in completion rates after the reform, but that the dropout rate might not have changed significantly over time. There is an improvement in the proportion of students completing on estimated time (2 years). Moreover, the process of completing a graduate university degree in general is more rapid after the reform than before.