Reducing drop-out in higher education as a headline target of Europe 2020

Success in higher education (HEd) is vital for jobs, social equality and economic growth and therefore highly qualified professionals are indispensable for each society. As one of its headline targets the European Union’s strategy for jobs and growth, Europe 2020, proposes to lead at least 40% of the younger generation to a third level education (European Commission, 2010). Additionally, in Europe 2020 as well as in other strategy papers such as the EU-Strategy for the modernizing of HEd, the Commission claims to reduce the number of drop-outs in HEd (European Commission, 2011).

Despite various efforts in recent years (Vossensteyn et al., 2015) the reality in most European countries is a different one. As reported by the OECD (2016) the current average rate of completion in tertiary education is 70%. Even in the most successful EU countries in terms of completion about 20% of the students do not successfully complete their programme. Drop out rates from bachelor programmes in the consortium countries Portugal, Germany, Greece and Serbia are between 28%-42%.