Nearly 150 education institution leaders gathered in São Paulo, Brazil, from June 18-19, to attend the Dropping Out of Higher Education seminar that focused on the Laureate network's expertise in tackling school dropout rates. Organized by Universia Brasil and curated by the academic vice president of Laureate Brasil and the dean of Anhembi Morumbi University, professor Oscar Hipólito; a presentation by the vice president, student experience, Laureate network, Professor Christian Ortega, and dean of distance learning at Laureate Brasil, Professor Josiane Tonelotto, was the centerpiece on the opening day.
Opening the event, Professor Hipólito presented a statistical overview of the current dropout rates in higher education that affect both public and private institutions, demonstrating how urgently the problem needs attention. Besides warning of the important social losses caused by dropping out, the presentation also sought to demystify the concept of dropping out being caused by specific or mostly financial factors. "There are more than 50 reasons students drop out of a university course and we need to be alert to these signs to turn the situation around before that happens," said Hipólito.
Christian Ortega presented the work done by Laureate’s student experience community of practice, which comprises of more than 40 experts and representatives of the network’s institutions around the world. He showed how the development and application of processes has been continuously reducing dropout rates. "Management and monitoring of students are extremely important in tackling dropout rates. This work has had positive results for the entire group and was developed from the experience of our institutions worldwide. It is a model which has consolidated processes, but ones which can also be adapted to the reality of each institution," he said.
Also attending the event, professor, senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education at the University of Miami, William Scott Green, presented their program to tackle dropout rates. He said universities must admit only students that are appropriate for the institution in order to reduce dropout rates at the lowest possible level. Professor Josiane Tonelotto presented a Brazilian case study, "Freshman Project," implemented at Anhembi Morumbi University to engage students as soon as they join the university. This project, developed in partnership with Dr. Cristiane Alperstedt and Dr. Claudia Kober, has been recognized by the European University in Madrid.