Factors encouraging individuals to continue to university revealed

Editor Grace Dean discusses factors that influence people to choose to go to university

Grace Dean
12th December 2019
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A recent study has revealed the factors that influence an individual's likelihood to go to university.

The study of over 1000 pupils by researchers in Croatia found that having a desk to work at, achieving good grades at schools, having parents with high expectations and enjoying school are among the factors most likely to motivate children to progress to university.

Surprisingly, the study shows that these factors have a larger influence than school class size, average grades at the school and the wealth of an area. This led the researchers to ultimately conclude that programmes introduced to encourage children to engage in higher education should be directed at individuals rather than at schools.

Factors included what expectations their parents had for them, whether they received academic support from their parents and to what extent, and whether they had their own room, computer and desk.

Researchers from the Institute for Social Research, based in Zagreb, questioned 1,050 pupils aged 13, 14 and 15 at 23 schools in the city about a variety of topics, ranging from whether they enjoyed school, whether they would like to continue to higher education, their individual academic grades, what expectations their parents had for them, whether they received academic support from their parents and to what extent, and whether they had their own room, computer and desk. These factors were all shown to contribute substantially to an individual's likelihood of progressing to higher education, with pupils' academic grades being the most likely to influence their desire to study at university.

The researchers additionally collected data on the schools' average grades, the sizes of the schools and their classes, and houses prices in the vicinity. Surprisingly, an analysis showed that none of the school-level attributes had a significant influence on pupils' desire to study at university.

The study additionally showed that girls more likely than boys to want to progress to higher education.

The report concludes that: "The major finding arising from the present study is that none of the school level variables used in our analysis contributes to the explanation of pupils' aspirations for higher education.

"In other words, pupils who have similar individual characteristics but attend different schools will likely hold similar aspirations for higher education.

"An important finding arising from the present study is that parents can influence their child's aspirations by expressing their expectations regarding the child's educational path and by providing the basic conditions for completing homework and learning (ie a desk to work on). From an equal-opportunity standpoint, it is encouraging that parental employment and educational status did not predict pupils' aspirations.

"It should be stressed that it is possible that different predictors would behave differently for pupils living in rural areas and smaller cities without higher education institutions, where lower socioeconomic status represents a greater obstacle for pursuing educational goals."

Discussing the findings, second year student Joe Molander said that his "love for microeconomics" inspired him to study Economics and Politics at university. He further stated that "it's the done thing and I wasn't entirely ready to leave education. For the things I want to do in life - being a great (or, at least, slightly above average) stand-up comedian - it is helpful to have a backup."

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AUTHOR: Grace Dean
Editor-in-Chief of the Courier 2019/20, News Editor 2018/19, writer since 2016 and German & Business graduate. I've written for all of our sections, but particularly enjoy writing breaking news and data-based investigative pieces. Best known in the office for making tea and blasting out James Blunt. Twitter: @graceldean

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