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Student success may be at risk at many European Institutions, a new analysis reveals.

The analysis by Danish think-tank, DEA has caused concerns over Higher Education completion rates in Denmark. The report has shown that one in six students have not completed Higher Education by the age of thirty. This signifies approximately 5,000 people every year who have not completed Higher Education.   

Furthermore. the problem may be more widespread across Europe. Recent data reveals that the share of young people (25-34) with a tertiary education qualification in many European countries, is still below 50%. This includes Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Unfortunately, this has a knock on effect on student employability and potential earnings.

In some European countries, such as Italy, the percentage of young people with a tertiary education qualification is as low as 28%.  

The DEA analysis reports that 75% of students who did not complete Higher Education by the time they were thirty years old, had started at least one course before. Furthermore, nearly 30% of students had started a HE qualification twice. Accompanying this is evidence from other European countries of increased student dropouts and lower university attendance.

Together this indicates the student success issue for European institutions may concern student retention rather than enrollment. 

Student Success in Europe

The Big Issues

One reason for lower student completion rates and higher dropouts is that students are not getting enough support throughout their education experience. Further evidence from across Europe shows that students are struggling with the rising cost of living, including rent, heat and food costs.

Students are now struggling to afford to continue their studies and this is evident in the rising drop out rates. Some governments, such as Germany have introduced new measures and one-off payments to combat costs for students, but student success issues remain 



The DEA analysis recommended greater counselling and advising for students to improve student success. Effective advising can improve student welfare, boost academic performance and prevent student dropouts. The report also recommended stronger monitoring of student dropouts using data-driven methods.   

In addition to this, a report from the European Commission noted a serious lack of systemic knowledge, data and indicators of student success at European institutions and universities. The EU commission recommended that universities monitor students and student success indicators to build a foundation of institutional action. Keeping track of student progression can help universities identify ‘at-risk’ students and provide them with the support they need, before they drop out. 

For more check out our blog on student retention and course completion rates.