Students find gold in dropouts

December 7, 2001

Enterprising students have turned a failure of the German higher education system into an e-business success: they have set up a website to help student dropouts.

The site offers more than sympathy and job-seeking advice for the 70,000 students who drop out each year. It is also a puts them in touch with companies seeking to recruit non-graduates.

Tobias Mazet, one of the founders, said: "Many companies have a specific interest in student dropouts. They are a bit older than school-leavers and bring a certain maturity and experience.

"Forty per cent of all bank trainees later go on to take business degrees and are therefore no longer available to the company that trained them. But employees who have tried university and decided against it are more likely to stay in the job," said Mr Mazet, a 22-year-old economics student.

He and two fellow Nuremberg University students developed their idea when an insurance company asked them to work out a recruitment concept targeting student dropouts.

They discovered that dropouts were much more employable than their reputation suggested. Non-finishers in science, engineering, economics and law are the most popular, but the site is open to dropouts from all subjects. It is free to ex-students, though firms pay €250 (£156) a month to advertise.

However, it usually does not pay to drop out in Germany. With a few exceptions, mainly in IT, graduates earn more than non-graduates. Mr Mazet himself has no plans to drop out. "I am very happy with my studies. But if the right offer came along...."

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