Higher education was reformed through the Bologna Process with the hope that an increasing number of students will get a degree faster than before due to the short cycle of bachelor’s programs. However, the change in structure has not reduced student attrition in Western Europe. Even in the 2010s, understanding the phenomenon of attrition is one of the most significant challenges in higher education research. In Hungary, almost two fifths of bachelor’s students and one fifth of master’s students leave higher education without earning a degree.
When examining student attrition, we may use data on institutions or individuals. Institutional data reveal the proportion of those who continue their studies without interruption (retention), while data on the individual level allow the investigation of students’ expectations about their own chances of getting a degree (persistence).
By comparing attrition rates among those who pursued higher education in 2010 and 2014 at different faculties (data from the Higher Education Information System – FIR) with data from a regional student survey (IESA database), we have found that faculties with high retention rates also demonstrate a large proportion of self-reported persistent students. Furthermore, we have explored the effect of individual traits (demographic characteristics and socioeconomic status), institutional factors (size, selectivity, maintainer, and prestige), and embeddedness (multiplexity and strength of different social networks) on student persistence.
We have shown that institutional factors and embeddedness have a more significant impact than demographic and social characteristics, which individuals have before entering higher education.
In the present study we examined the graduate students of higher educational institutions with Hungarian as the language of teaching in Hungary, Rumania and the Ukraine. We were interested in seeing whether divergences could be traced, years after graduation, among students coming from certain secondary school sectors. Our results revealed that the more advantageous situation of former denominational high school students could be detected especially in the attitude to one’s work, the work concept of serving the common good, and the consumption of intellectual high culture in the traditional sense. These achievements of former denominational school students could not be explained with their social status, since these young people, in many respects, are more disadvantaged than the average. However, their value system and relationship network, and most of all their religiosity have a characteristic aspect. In regression models, we matched the strength of the seemingly significant explanations in the two-variable analysis. On the basis of the matching, we found that minding the influence of other explanations, regarding the readiness of entering service, the work concept of seeking social utility, as well as time spent on reading, sector-effect (effect of school maintainer) carries a very remarkable weight. After the passing of denominational school-years the personal or small-community worship can also inspire the formation or observance of this type of work concept, the attendance of students’ extracurricular tasks and the classical intellectual leisure time habits.