It is widely recognised that dropouts face reduced chances in the labour market. For a substantial share of dropouts, however, this is not a permanent outcome. Yet, the return of dropouts to upper secondary education, i.e., re-enrolment, has received little international academic and policy attention.
The project will study re-enrolment in upper secondary education after temporary withdrawal, among people under the age of 25 in Norway. What characterises re-enrolees? Are they in risk of yet another dropout, or are they more motivated to complete? What are their activities in the period outside, and why do they decide to return? How can the follow-up service, the welfare state services and flexible learning arenas support youth in a comeback process?
Analyses of administrative registry data will provide an overview of re-enrolment patterns, demographic traits, and factors promoting return. The main part of the data collection, however, is qualitative interviews. We follow three different groups to facilitate a comparison of different stages in a comeback process within the project period. The first group is comprised of young people who are neither in education, training and employment (NEETs). The second group is young people who already have, or who are at risk of dropping out, participating in flexible training schemes. The third group is young people who have returned to upper secondary education, to either vocational or general study programs. Preliminary findings show that the county municipal Follow-up service makes great efforts in seeking up and activate early school leavers. These counsellors report of a lack of suitable schemes for this group. We identify three dilemmas: first, considerations between close follow-up, yet avoiding support dependency, second, boundaries in the identifying and disciplining activity while simultaneously respecting the individuals autonomy, and third, how to prioritize their efforts subsumed to governance and control from educational authorities, limited resources and youth with complex help needs. Interviews with early school leavers and re-enrollees show how they often embrace and reproduce the discourse about educational credentials as key to a happy life, without showing signs of a re-enrolment drive. Rather, it seems as they are in need of a support-system that either accommodate their individual needs, or nudge them back "on right track".
The project group consists of researchers at NIFU (project management), OsloMet and Statistics Norway, and includes a scientific advisory board and a network of practitioners.
It is widely recognised that dropouts face reduced chances in the labour market. For a substantial share of dropouts, however, this is not a permanent outcome. Yet, the return of dropouts to upper secondary education, i.e., re-enrolment, has received little international academic and policy attention. The proposed project will study re-enrolment in upper secondary education after temporary withdrawal, among people under the age of 25 in Norway. With no national descriptions of re-enrollees currently available, the project will paint a much-needed picture of who these are and how to promote re-enrolment and subsequent completion among at-risk youth. The analytical approach includes the interrelation of institutional conditions and individual choices, accessed through young peoples subjective accounts. The overall research strategy combines analyses of administrative registry data and a comprehensive qualitative longitudinal study (QLS). The former will provide an overview of re-enrolment patterns, demographic traits, and factors promoting return. The latter provides insights into how the young peoples subjective perceptions of the in- and out-of-school journey they traverse and its destination change over time. In the QLS, we propose a two-group design to facilitate a comparison of different stages of the re-enrolment process within the four-year frame: A) dropouts from the Supplementary Programme for general university and college admissions certification, and B) re-enrollees in both vocational and general study programmes. A collaborative and inter-disciplinary team of researchers at NIFU, NOVA and Statistics Norway, led by a young yet experienced project manager, will conduct the project. Networks of distinguished scholars and national experts will promote comparative perspectives and publications, and ensure research relevant to educational authorities and users.