Student Dropout in Higher Education in Southern Mexico: A Qualitative Approach (2011-2020)




Student dropout is a problem that cuts across several disciplines, educational levels, and contexts. More than 40% of students who enroll in higher education in Latin America do not complete their program (Fonseca & García, 2016). Several organizations evaluating educational programs in Mexico have urged universities to reduce student dropout rates. However, accomplishing this goal requires identifying its causes. Previous research suggests students abandon their studies for numerous reasons, including psychological, socio-environmental, economic, organizational, and interactional factors (Tinto, 1987); and economic, administrative, academic, and affective factors (Authors, 2012). This paper reports on the findings obtained from a qualitative exploratory case study conducted at a university located in the southeastern region of Mexico. The main goal was to explore the causes for which students abandoned their studies in higher education. Data were collected from 118 participants from undergraduate and graduate programs across five campuses and seven colleges using an electronic survey. Findings suggest that three main types of causes influenced students’ decision to drop out of their program, namely academic, personal, and economic reasons. Results also demonstrate the complexity and multi-factorial reasons for early leaving. This paper offers suggestions for strategic university-wide decisions for student support program design.

Keywords: student dropout, early leaving, higher education.


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Negrete Cetina, M., Cabañas Victoria, V. V., Martínez Sánchez, M. M. ., Velasco Argente, R. A., & Pérez Martínez, K. M. (2023). Student Dropout in Higher Education in Southern Mexico: A Qualitative Approach (2011-2020). Emerging Trends in Education, 6(11), 40-50.