Youth packs degree punch

February 28, 1997

French students' performance at university bears a strong correlation to their secondary school record, according to a study by the education ministry's department for assessments and forecasts.

In a statistical analysis of university entrance and the entry rate into the third year, the report shows that the age at which the student passed the baccalaureat has a major impact on their chance of obtaining a university degree.

On average, 60 per cent of all students are accepted into the third year but fewer than 30 per cent make it after completing the initial two-year diploma in just two years. The survey covers those entering the third year within five years of starting university.

Department director Claude Thelot said: "Those who thought the first-level university diploma courses improved students' chances are going to be disappointed. Our indicators show students continue to bear the consequences of their school record."

When students with an arts-based baccalaureat enter a humanities course, 73.9 per cent of those who passed their baccalaureat aged 18 or younger will eventually get into the degree year, compared to only 45.5 per cent of those who had to repeat more than one school year.

The report also details university performance in relation to the type of baccalaureat passed. While it was well known that holders of the general, more academic baccalaureats have a better chance of success than those with the technology or vocational versions, the age factor was new.

The indicators show that these two factors - subject and age - are actually compounded and therefore affect student outcomes even more strongly. On average, 80 per cent of students with a technology baccalaureat have repeated at least one school year, compared to 41 per cent of those with a general baccalaureat.

A science baccalaureat-holder with no repeat years has on average an 80 per cent chance of reaching the third year, while a technology baccalaureat-holder who did repeat at school has a 20 per cent chance. Overall, three-quarters of those starting university at 18 are expected to reach their degree year, while only a third of those who repeated years at school will reach the same level.

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