Student attrition in postsecondary education is a significant public policy problem. Nations invest substantial resources in college systems, and when students leave, this investment is lost. To understand the factors that influence student attrition in US and Russian public universities, we use the perspective of academic momentum, defined empirically as measures representing student enrollment and study progress. Using a discrete-time event history analysis of samples of eight US and two Russian universities, we provide support for the central claims of the academic momentum theory that undergraduate students who progress through college more rapidly have a lower likelihood of attrition. However, a more detailed analysis reveals variability in the relationship between several academic momentum measures and student attrition, depending on a university’s selectivity and the student’s chosen academic field and gender.
Student withdrawal (attrition) is becoming an actual phenomenon due to demographic changes, modernization of the economy and education, especially for universities located in economically depressed areas. The tradition of research on student withdrawal is still being formed in Russia, so it is important to clarify the main terminology used for the analysis of withdrawal, to develop a theoretical framework that takes into account the specifics of Russian universities, and to specify the prospects for the elaboration of research. A review of the terminology used in international studies to study the withdrawal as well as the history of studying this phenomenon in the USA is presented. The basic concepts of withdrawal, developed in sociology, psychology, organization theory and economics, are considered. They indicate the effectiveness of accounting for a wide range of factors of differing natures in the study of withdrawal: the processes of social and academic integration, the psychological characteristics of students, the organizational characteristics of the university and educational programs. When adapting existing models to Russian higher education, it is important to take into account that compulsory withdrawal caused by academic failure of students predominates in Russian universities, while international models were created to describe voluntary withdrawal from higher education institutions. National research which can serve as the basis for the development of a model of student withdrawal from Russian universities is analyzed.
Institutions affect investment decisions, including investments in human capital. Hence institutions are relevant for the allocation of talent. Good market-supporting institutions attract talent to productive value-creating activities, whereas poor ones raise the appeal of rent-seeking. We propose a theoretical model that predicts that more talented individuals are particularly sensitive in their career choices to the quality of institutions, and test these predictions on a sample of around 95 countries of the world. We find a strong positive association between the quality of institutions and graduation of college and university students in science, and an even stronger negative correlation with graduation in law. Our findings are robust to various specifications of empirical models, including smaller samples of former colonies and transition countries. The quality of human capital makes the distinction between educational choices under strong and weak institutions particularly sharp. We show that the allocation of talent is an important link between institutions and growth.