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Detecting and Preventing Drop out from Higher Education or Supporting Students to Switch Successfully to VET
Start date: Sep 1, 2014, End date: Feb 28, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background Success in higher education is vital for jobs, social justice and economic growth and therefore highly qualified professionals are indispensable for each society. As one of its headline targets, the European Union proposes to lead at least 40% of the younger generation to a third level education. Additionally, it claims to reduce the number of dropouts in higher education. Despite various efforts in recent years the reality in most European countries is a different one. Still too many students in the EU drop out before they complete their higher education degree. Dropping out can be a positive decision when students realise that the time, place or degree is not right for them. However, even though most of those who drop out from an initial course of study want to transfer to another course or to return to study at a later date, currently most countries do not help them sufficiently with flexible arrangements. Students, who leave university without a degree, are usually well-trained persons. However, their potential for the labour market is still underestimated and not used adequately. In order to tackle the problem of early dropout in higher education throughout the European Union, experts amongst others proposed the development of an "early warning systems" in order to identify persons at risk. It is also proposed to offer counselling and personal support to students at risk as early as possible in order to be able to offer them adequate assistance. In the process counselling students who face dropout risks two groups play a crucial role: student counsellors at Universities and career counsellors at employment agencies or centres. Both groups, however, have differing interests. While students’ counsellors are primarily interested in students’ academic achievments, for career counsellors at employment agencies VET and the labour market is in the foreground of their work. When it comes to dropout risks both groups should cooperate closely. Nevertheless, as experiences suggest in most countries this is hardly the case. If at all, cooperation mainly takes place at an informal level. Aims and objectives of the PrevDrop project Being located both at the sectors “Higher Education” and “Vocational Education and Training” of the Erasmus+ Programme, the PrevDrop project targets the situation outlined above. The project aims to equip student counsellors at Universities, careers counsellors at employment agencies as well as students themselves with tools, knowledge and resources that help to detect dropout risks and to provide or find adequate support. The project targets two groups of students that face dropout risks: a) students for whom a successful continuation of their studies appears to be probable and b) students for whom a successful continuation of their studies is highly improbable. While for the first group measures will be provided that promote students’ successful completion of studies, measures for the second group focus on integrating them into Vocational Education and Training and/or the labour market. In the course of the project the partners qualify student counsellors from Universities, career counsellors from employment agencies and multipliers working with these two groups. Envisaged outcomes and products In more detail the project will provide: • An "early warning system" in form of a self-assessment tool that will help students themselves as well as student counsellors from Universities and career counsellors from employment agencies to detect dropout risk. • Face-to-face trainings for student counsellors and career counsellors as well as multipliers in which participants will be provided with knowledge on students dropout, the handling of the PrevDrop self-assessment tool, strategies to preventing dropout from higher education and ways to support students to switch successfully to VET. Participants of the trainings will be equipped with a comprehensive resource package consisting of a training manual, a trainer guide and a set of PowerPoint slides. • An online portal that consists of an online platform for multipliers, a students section that provides information on where to find appropriate support and assistance and a comprehensive self-directed online course for students counsellors and career counsellors. Impact on stakeholder Universities can improve their image by holistic counselling and advice. For companies there is a greater availability of people who enter to the job market. They will profit from the networking with Universities and employment agencies by getting the opportunity to recruit staff earlier.
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