Dropping out of studies: In which countries you earn a lot with it

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Anyone who is new to the university knows doubts. This is especially true for those who finance their studies themselves. Nadine Vierheller (28) from Frankfurt am Main was one of them until the end of 2019. She studied art history and education at Goethe University. In addition, she worked. She held out the double burden for three years. “When the pressure increased enormously, I got sick,” she says. “I was faced with a choice: continue or give up? I gave up and said to myself: It doesn’t have to be forever. ”

At the time, Nadine Vierheller did not have a plan B. She spoke to friends and family and visited a counseling center at Goethe University, which is aimed specifically at those who are doubtful of their studies. “I started studying because it suited my inclinations, as did the part-time job: I liked customer contact in sales,” she says. She rescheduled. In 2020 she began training as an optician.

Financial bottlenecks among students and their families – and increased doubts

The pandemic is now making the situation even worse. Almost 40 percent of the students who are gainfully employed have lost their jobs, were given unpaid leave or had to reduce their working hours. This was the result of an ongoing survey by the German Center for University and Science Research (DZHW). The possible consequence: more dropouts. “Above all, students whose employment situation has deteriorated and whose parents are also affected by a deteriorated income situation think more often about dropping out,” says project manager Markus Lörz.

The employees of the “yourPUSH” project at Goethe University, who, together with the Chamber of Crafts, advise study doubters such as Nadine Vierheller, receive more inquiries than usual To be strengthened in the semester ”, says student advisor Marion Gröger.

After dropping out, you’ll earn even more in Great Britain, the Netherlands and Poland

Anyone who decides to leave the university early will find different levels of acceptance on the job market in Europe. “Dropping out of your studies does not significantly improve your job and salary opportunities,” says Francesco Berlingieri, researcher in the labor markets research department at the Leibniz Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim (ZEW). “In some countries, however, the labor market conditions for dropouts are better.” For a study, Berlingieri examined the labor market conditions for dropouts across Europe.

In Italy and Lithuania, for example, the chances of getting a job increase after dropping out. In Great Britain, the Netherlands and Poland, the earnings of dropouts are a good ten percent higher than those of people with an intermediate level of education. Experience obviously counts here regardless of a degree.

Germany: No advantages for students without a degree

“In Germany, experience at university without a degree is not particularly rewarded and hardly improves job prospects after dropping out,” says Berlingieri. “A lot of people go into training here afterwards. That in turn increases their chances on the job market. “

Countries with strict protection against dismissal and many graduates are less flexible here. If you have any doubts about your studies, Francesco Berlingieri recommends good advice. “In times of crisis, training can offer special opportunities. There is now demand for many professional groups that do not require a degree. ”He has this advice for German universities:“ After one year of study, issue students with a university qualification certificate. You can find that at universities in the UK. It motivates and helps in the job market – and it can prevent dropouts. ”

Nadine Vierheller is not affected. She sees the six semesters at the university as an advantage in training. “I am shortening my apprenticeship to two years, I can learn well and in a structured manner, and I get through exam preparation well.” Her advice to doubters: “Talk, talk, talk. Weigh the pros and cons carefully. There is always a way.”


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