Completing Higher Education – What makes a difference?
We combined health, tax, welfare and demographic data with bachelor’s degree student data to show the significant social and health risk factors that prevent Australians from completing their bachelor’s degree studies within six years. While institution attended and study load have the largest impact on student completion rates, we were able to unearth new factors that drive student success and predict student completions with 80 per cent accuracy.
Impact on higher education bachelor completion rates, 2011–2016, all other variables being equal.
Work and study (+17%)
Full-time students who worked while studying are 13 percentage points more likely to complete. Earning up to $30,000 per year for full-time students associated with higher completion rates. 80% of students worked while studying.
Students who receive study assistance (+7%)
Students who receive study assistance are 7 percentage points more likely to complete. Effect even higher for some students; up to 18 percentage points for full-time students in the 25–29 age bracket, and up to 12 percentage points for students living with disadvantage.
Gap year (no impact)
There is no statistically significant difference in the completion rates of students who took a gap-year. These students are one percentage point more likely to complete their studies, relative to their peers.
Students with disability (-2%)
Students who live with disability are two percentage points less likely to complete once all other factors are taken into account. There is a growing proportion of students that identify as living with disability.
Mental Health (-9%)
All other variables being equal, students accessing mental health services are 9 percentage points less likely to complete. Students with a known mental health condition that make usage of mental health services during study have a higher chance of completing their studies. 30% of students used mental health services.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students (-15%)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are on average 15 percentage points less likely to complete. These students also tend to start university at an older age. The reduction in completion rates can be mitigated with study assistance, in some cases by up to 21 percentage points.
Multiple equity groups (-17%)
Belonging to multiple equity groups can reduce completion rates on average by 17 percentage points. In some cases the reduction could be as high as 30 percentage points. Income support helps overcome these disadvantages, increasing completion rates for students with low Australian Tertiary Admission Ranks and/or belonging to multiple equity groups.