Gender-specific analysis of higher education dropouts – comparing disciplines

The research project examines from a gender perspective which factors lead to student withdrawal from higher education in Germany. According to our definition, the term ‘college dropout‘ includes different situations: changes between subjects but also students leaving higher education in order to gain occupational training or enter the labour market right away. Previous research on dropout behaviour has revealed mixed results: Some studies find higher dropout rates for women in comparison to men. Other studies state that women withdraw less frequently from higher education than their male counterparts. Besides there are considerable gender differences between subjects regarding dropout rates. Previous studies on subject-specific dropout rates have also revealed mixed results regarding differences between female and male students. In this project we are particularly interested in so-called STEM subjects which show very high dropout rates. The project investigates the relative importance of different mechanisms responsible for dropout decisions; among these are performance-related reasons as well as social aspects. The empirical analysis is based on the start cohort 5 – students of the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) and data of de-registered former students collected by the German Centre for Research on Higher Education and Science Studies (DZHW).

Funding agency: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Funding period: 2015-2019

Project team member: Jasmin Meyer


Meyer, Jasmin, Leuze, Kathrin, Strauß, Susanne (2021): Individual Achievement, Person-Major Fit, or Social Expectations: Why Do Students Switch Majors in German Higher Education?, in: Research in Higher Education,  online first, doi: 10.1007/s11162-021-09650-y

Meyer, Jasmin, Mantinger, Mara (2020): Drehtür-Effekt im deutschen Hochschulsystem? Bildungswege nach dem Abbruch geschlechtsatypischer Studiengänge, in: Soziale Welt. Nomos. ISSN 0038-6073. KOPS Uni Konstanz

Meyer Jasmin, Strauß Susanne (2019). The influence of gender composition in a field of study on students’ dropout of higher education, in: European Journal of Education, online first doi: