One of the biggest problems in higher education is desertion, one that has been exacerbated, especially in times of pandemic, despite efforts by universities to keep students in classrooms.
According to a recent Educa-Mas report, as a result of Covid-19, more than 39,000 young people have left Higher Education Institutions (IES) in Colombia for economic reasons or simply because they have not adapted to virtualization. Similarly, the Ministry of National Education (MEN) recently confirmed that first-semester enrollment in private universities decreased by 23 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.
Other desertion figures confirm that as a result of the impact from the health emergency, that percentage is today at 23.5 percent, according to the latest reports from the Colombian Confederation of Universities (ASCUN).
However, other indicators of the system to prevent and analyze abandonment in institutions of higher education (Spdies) in men confirm that abandonment has only increased by 8 percentage points in the past five years (2015-2019). Similarly, in the case of annual abandonment, it is evident that only between 2020-1 and 2020-2 did the national average increase from 7.56 per cent to 12.8 per cent, nearly double the number in just one semester.
On an academic level, Diana Xiomara Garay, Student Success Coordinator at University of El Bosque, recognizes the need to develop primary leveling procedures in general and digital skills and strengthen skills for learning learning in the twenty-first century.
He commented on this by saying: “Educational diagnosis should be provided and advice given on academic and administrative decisions, and social and vocational guidance should be provided to young people to face professional crises and thus reduce abandonment.”
On a psychosocial level, says Garay, it is necessary to work from promoting mental health, implementing crisis care methods, generating healthy lifestyle habits, and forming student groups that respond to a sociocultural perspective that acknowledges and emphasizes diversity, as well as using healthy recreation offerings from culture and sport.
Father Salomon Bravo, Director of Welfare and Student Affairs, says that “it is necessary from the first semester to take characterization exams for students, allowing them to understand their social and economic reality”.
In addition to the above, we decided to apply an entry test that presents us with their academic reality, especially in mathematics, reading and writing. The director said that the results of these two evaluations become early warnings and allow us to develop interventions in a timely manner.
Guidance, monitoring and lessons
Already in the middle of the semester, accompanying students in the development of their training is still in force, through guidance, observation and teaching. Likewise, he offered settlement and psychosocial support sessions.
In line with the above, at the Universidad Autónoma de Occidente (UAO) a socio-economic and familial characterization of students is carried out, to identify the diverse educational needs of each one of them. In addition, they are informed and guided about support in psychology, counseling, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and observation.