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The Completion Shift of German Universities of Applied Sciences

Gralka, Sabine and Wohlrabe, Klaus and Bornmann, Lutz (2017): The Completion Shift of German Universities of Applied Sciences.

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In research on higher education, the evaluation of completion and drop-out rates has generated a steady stream of interest for decades. While most studies only calculate quotes using student and graduate numbers for both phenomena, we propose to also consider the budget available to universities. We transfer the idea of the excellence shift from the research (Bornmann et al., 2017) to the teaching area, and particularly to the completion rate of educational entities. The completion shift shows institutions’ ability to produce graduates as measured against their basic academic teaching efficiency, thereby avoiding the well-known heterogeneity problem in efficiency measurement. Their politically determined focus on education makes German universities of applied science the perfect sample for evaluating this novel method. Using a comprehensive dataset covering the years 2008 to 2013, we show that the shift produces results, which correlate considerably with the results of the standard Data Envelopment Approach (DEA). Thus, we recommend the completion shift as an alternative method of efficiency measurement in the teaching area. Compared to DEA, the computation of the shift is easy and the results are understandable to non-economists.

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