The share of young individuals with a university degree in Italy has increased substantially over the past decades, but it is still around 24%, far from the goal set up by Horizon 2020 of 40% and much lower than the majority of EU countries. This critical outcome is not due to the low participation rate in the university system, which is not far from that in most EU countries. Instead, the main reason seems to be the very high non-completion probabilities experienced by Italian students. Moreover, a large share of students takes a long time to attain the degree, far above the institutional length of the degrees. An extensive literature from the sociology and economics of education has analyzed university enrolment and dropout in Italy, highlighting large differentials across high school tracks and family backgrounds. However, this literature is largely based on self-reported data from retrospective surveys that do not allow investigating university careers: credits earning, temporary dropout, degree changes, time to degree. The lack of in-depth analyses of dropout behavior and the timing of degree attainment is due to the difficulty to obtain good quality and well organized micro-level longitudinal data on students’ university careers.

In this project we aim at overcoming these limitations, by exploiting the administrative data released by the Italian Ministry of Education on students first matriculated at the University of Torino in years 2004-2015, following their educational careers up to 2016. These data include the segments of careers started at the University of Torino and continued in other national institutions enabling to distinguish between degree course changes and transfers to other institutions from system-level dropout. Moreover, we have proposed the inclusion in the matriculation form of few items on parental education and occupation. Thus, we now have the opportunity to analyze the influence of family background and economic situation on the students’ academic careers after enrolment with high quality administrative data.

Within the project, we will create an innovative experimental data warehouse (EDW) linking different data archives recording information on tertiary education and labor market careers: university administrative data released by the Ministry of Education, the Almalaurea Survey on university degree holders and the Employment Information System of Public Employment Services). The EDW will contain longitudinal information on the entire populations of recent cohorts of entrants, from university enrolment to degree attainment or withdrawal, and the subsequent occupational history, enabling to study how university graduates enter the labor market in relation to their educational careers and family background, as well as vertical and horizontal skills mismatch.

The project has three working packages: (i) data warehouse; (ii) university careers; (iii) transition to the labor market and skills mismatch.