Seven in 10 Argentinian students fail to graduate on time

Steady decline in undergraduate continuation blamed on unusually open admissions system

June 6, 2018
Argentina
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Argentina continues to be one of the worst-performing countries in the world by university graduation rate, figures have revealed, fuelling concerns among the academic community.

Analysing most recently available figures from the 2016 graduation year, researchers from the Centre for the Study of Education in Argentina at the University of Belgrano highlighted that just three out of every 10 students enrolled in higher education manage to graduate within the scheduled time frame.

The vast majority are either delayed in finishing their course or drop out of university altogether, the authors note.

Graduation rates at both public and private universities in Argentina have seen a steady decline over the past three years. The figures are worse in state-funded institutions, where as many as 80 per cent of students do not pass more than one module each year.

Argentina stands behind neighbouring countries such as Brazil and Chile, where more than half of students graduate. By comparison, 80 per cent of students in Colombia and Mexico successfully complete their undergraduate courses.

But experts say that Argentina’s poor continuation rates are interlinked with the country’s unique university admissions system – through which students can enrol for free at public institutions, often without specified grade requirements. As a result, Argentina has a proportionately much larger student population than other Latin American countries.

“The [continuation] rate in Argentina is normal for an unrestricted admissions system like ours,” Marcelo Rabossi, a researcher at Di Tella University, told Clarín. “Here, the selection of students takes place within the university, once they have already entered…in other countries it is done exogenously, outside the university,” he continued.

While Argentina has been hailed as having one of the more socially mobile and more openly accessible public university systems, some argue that the high dropout rates come at a disproportionate cost.

rachael.pells@timeshighereducation.com

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