A recent study co-authored by Pilar Aparicio Chueca, researcher at the UB Business School, Màrius Domínguez-Amorós, researcher at the UB School of Sociology, and Irene Maestro, professor at the UB Faculty of Economics and Business, tries to determinate the profile of the students who transfer onto a different course.

This is an increasing phenomenon among students, especially after the first or second academic year. On their article ‘Beyond university dropout. An approach to university transfer’, published on “Studies in Higher Education”, they show that this transfer refers to both changing the area of knowledge or the university, and occurs most frequently in engineering, experimental sciences and social sciences.

The work analyses the profile of the students who transfer (3,861 students, being the 8.3% of the total enrolled ones), based on microdata from the University Pre-enrolment Register of Catalonia and an explanatory model validated by means of Multivariate Logistic Regression. 

The results of the study conclude that the profile of the student who transfers is male, does not balance paid employment with studying, has completed the baccalaureate in a private or a state-funded private school, and comes from the upper-middle class with both parents with a higher-level education, working in higher management positions or liberal occupations. Moreover, their level of use of social networks and digital communication tools is very high.

The empirical findings have interesting implications for academic and university policies as the reasons for dropout and its academic and economic consequences are fundamentally different depending on whether it a matter of dropping out of the university system definitively, or if it is a question of transfer. Not only does this have implications in economic terms, of the efficient use of resources, and essentially of funding and the cost in terms of the prestige of the different establishments, but it also has important social implications which must be considered. 

To this effect, the institutional actions that seek to improve students’ social and academic integration as a way of dealing with definitive dropout, and that focus especially on students from households with less resources and cultural capital, are not addressing the phenomenon of transfer. 

On the other hand, there are factors that intervene in the dimensions related to “vocational” questions involved with aspects that could make choosing an academic programme and a professional career less difficult. These include maintaining information networks with secondary schools, providing pre-university and first-year degree students with information related to education and careers counselling, reviewing the academic regulations to facilitate changing courses through credit transfer and acquired skills, promoting tutorage and mentoring actions between parents and student advisory units, among others.