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Sober students more likely to drop out

Dropping out — Your alcohol consumption during the start of your study affects your well-being on your study programme. A survey from the Danish Evaluation Institute shows that students who either drink a lot, or who don’t drink at all during the start of their study programme have a greater risk of dropping out.

About the study

• The study is based on responses from 14,660 students at the country’s higher education programmes

• More than 30 per cent drop out of their education programmes – mostly within the first year

• The report examines the factors that influence the students’ probability of dropout during the course of their studies

• Read the study here

In two months time, the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) new students will start their study programmes, and this includes everything that this involves: Friday bars, intro courses and drinking games. But alcohol consumption also has a role to play in connection with the risk of dropout.

If you have an average alcohol consumption as a student, you also have a greater chance of sticking to your study programme.

However, students who have a large or low alcohol intake during the study programme start have a greater risk of dropping out. This is according to a new survey from the Danish Evaluation Institute (EVA), which examines the factors in the study programme start that influence the dropout rate of students in higher education.

14,000 participants

According to the study which is based on responses from more than 14,600 students, there may be several explanations for why alcohol consumption affects students’ wellbeing. It does not matter whether you go to an educational institution where there is in general a lot of drinking going on. However the study does show a correlation between the students’ individual alcohol intake and the likelihood of withdrawing from the programme.

The study emphasizes that excessive alcohol intake can have health implications that adversely affect the start of a study programme. And this may mean that the student gets left behind in the study process.

“OK not to go crazy”

However, students who drink a little or not at all can feel excluded from the community because alcohol plays a social role in connection with the start of the studies.

You should not have to feel excluded because you don’t think it's a good idea to go crazy with the beer
Marie Thomsen, Vice Chairman of the Student Council

“It is not surprising that people with higher alcohol consumption drop out. There are several obvious explanations. But it is more surprising that students who do not drink tend to drop out more often. And it makes you wonder whether alcohol intake plays too much of a dominant role during the course of the study start,” says consultant Eva Bjarke Tarpgaard of EVA. She also emphasizes that the correlation also exists when you take students’ ethnicity into account. It is not only about the fact that it is primarily non-Danish students that are not doing the drinking.

And it is a problem that non-drinking students are kept outside the community, says Vice Chairman of the Student Council Marie Thomsen:

“You should not have to feel excluded because you don’t think it’s a good idea to go crazy with the beer”

A balance

The report recommends that education institutions and universities introduce an alcohol policy that takes the greater drop-out probability into account. And this goes for drinking too much during the start of the studies and not drinking.

Marie Thomsen does not, however, believe that it is the task of the Rector to decide how much alcohol is to be drunk in a study programme.

“We should make sure we have a framework in which most people feel welcome. This does not mean that we should drink beer 24/7. Nor does it mean that you should not drink beer at all. This means that we need to find a balance.”

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