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Doctoral dissertation: Failure in joint application poses great risk to upper secondary studies

Failure to attain a place of study increases the likelihood that a young person does not complete any kind of upper secondary qualification by 10%.

Hanna Virtanen, who will defend her dissertation in the field of economics at the Aalto University School of Business, examined the factors that influence the completion of an upper secondary qualification. Nearly 15 per cent of pupils, who graduate from comprehensive school, do not complete any type of upper secondary education. Therefore, approximately 10,000 young people from each age group will be left with only a comprehensive school degree.

'These young people are in danger of becoming excluded from working life and society in general. We need information on what types of measures could promote the completion of upper secondary studies,' Hanna Virtanen says.

Approximately four per cent of comprehensive school graduates fail to attain a place of study in joint application. This will increase the likelihood that a young person will not complete any kind of upper secondary qualification by 10 per cent. Failing to attain a place of study will also increase the risk of dropping out of studies in the future. Additionally, poor success in joint application will cause a substantial delay in the completion of an upper secondary qualification.

Completion of an upper secondary qualification is more common in smaller towns than in larger ones. However, failure to attain a place of study will have a greater effect on final qualification numbers in small and medium-sized municipalities. One of the reasons for this could be that there are a greater number of gap year activities available in larger towns, which minimises the long-term effects of falling outside the educational system.

Students more likely to drop out, if place of study does not meet hopes and wishes

Virtanen's dissertation also shows that completion of a qualification is greatly influenced by whether the place of study meets with the young person's hopes and wishes.

'Being granted a place of study that the student is not as pleased with will increase the probability that he/she will not complete a qualification, especially among students who fared poorly in comprehensive school and those who applied first and foremost for vocational training. Failure to attain a place of study in one's first choice also pushes back the start of many young people's studies as well as increases the likelihood that they will transfer to another place of study at some point later on,' Hanna Virtanen explains.

The dissertation's results demonstrate that good accessibility to vocational education has a vital impact on the educational decisions of young people, who have fared poorly in comprehensive school. The results also demonstrate that decisions made during comprehensive school have far-reaching effects. Steps should be taken to intervene early on in the educational decisions of young people who are in danger of becoming excluded.

The research material is predominantly based on Statistics Finland's registry materials on young people, who completed comprehensive school in 2000-2003. The material follows these young people as they apply for a place of study and the progress of their studies all the way through to 2012.

Defence of dissertation

Hanna Virtanen, M.Sc. (Econ.) will defend her dissertation in the field of economics titled "Essays on Post-Compulsory Education Attainment in Finland" on Friday 3 June 2016 at the Aalto University School of Business. The public examination will take place at the Aalto University School of Business, Chydenia building, Stora Enso hall (H-324) (Runeberginkatu 22–24) at 12 noon. Professor Edwin Leuven (University of Oslo) will act as the opponent and Professor Pekka Ilmakunnas as the custos.

 

More information:

Hanna Virtanen
Research Institute of the Finnish Economy
tel. +358 (0)9 609 90243
[email protected]

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