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Call for Papers: 3rd Forum „Higher Education and the Labour Market“ (HELM)

of the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) and the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies (DZHW), with a special focus on “Dropping out of Higher Education: Reasons, Selectivity, and Labour Market Outcomes“

Conference format

Online conference. The conference language is English.


September 20th until September 21st, 2021

Aims and Topics

Student dropout from higher education constitutes a serious challenge: In recent years, almost 30 percent of students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programmes in Germany have left university without a degree. Moreover, dropout entails substantial costs. These include the costs of students’ (unsuccessful) stay in the higher education system as well as indirect costs due to the loss of tax and contribution payments these students would have made had they entered the labour market immediately after school. On an individual level, dropout entails a lower lifetime income as well as psychological costs, as dropouts have to cope with their academic “failure” and also need to realign the plans for their professional future. Therefore, understanding – and potentially avoiding – student dropout is a topic of high relevance, not only for researchers but also for policy makers and students themselves.

The conference aims to provide insights and different perspectives on the link between higher education and the labour market. It offers sessions with general contributions on the topic – as, for example, on returns to tertiary education, graduates’ placement on the labour market, or regional mobility of graduates – as well as sessions on this year’s focus topic, dropout from higher education.

In this framework, we are particularly interested in contributions on topics such as:

  • (Labour-market) perspectives of university dropouts.
  • Selectivity of dropout with respect to students’ social background.
  • Reasons for student dropout, with papers on the current Covid-19 pandemic’s impacts on dropout being particularly welcome.
  • Returns to alternative educational tracks (e.g., vocational education) vs. immediate entry into the labour market after dropout.
  • Potential measures to reduce dropout rates.

Keynote speakers

  • Prof. Eric A. Hanushek, PhD, Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University (California)
  • Dr. Sylke V. Schnepf, Senior Researcher at the EC – Joint Research Centre Ispra (Italy)


We welcome empirical contributions on the general topics as well as on the focus topic from various disciplines, particularly from Economics, Social Sciences, and Educational Sciences.

Please submit a short outline (max. 500 words) by July 12, 2021 to

Scientific committee

  • Prof. Bernd Fitzenberger, PhD (IAB/ FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg)
  • Prof. Dr. Monika Jungbauer Gans (DZHW/ University of Hanover)
  • Prof. Dr. Silke Anger (IAB/ University of Bamberg)
  • Dr. Anja Gottburgsen (DZHW)
  • Dr. Bernhard Christoph (IAB)
  • Dr. Nancy Kracke (DZHW)

Further information

For further information please contact



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