Determinants of academic achievements in continuing education

Discussion in academic literature of academic achievements of adult students. Emerging educational systems. Research and characteristic of the main process from enrollment campaign to learning outcomes and academic achievements of adult students.

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Faculty of Social Sciences

Institute of Education

Graduation qualification work in the direction of training 38.04.02 "Management"

«Determinants of academic achievements in continuing education»

Student of the group No. 804

educational program "Management in Higher Education"

Zagorodnova Ekaterina Pavlovna

Scientific adviser:

Candidate of Economic Sciences, EA Shakina

Moscow 2017




1. Academic achievements of adult students: discussion in academic literature

2. Emerging educational systems: common features and discrepancies with the developed markets

3. NRU HSE case: western academic traditions on Russian educational markets - pro and cons

4. Research design: from enrollment campaign to learning outcomes and academic achievements of adult students

5. Data and methodology: students' survey and tracking of academic achievements

6. Empirical results

Conclusion and discussion



This research attempts to identify factors that affect academic achievements of students which have decided to continue their professional education after graduation from their first college or university. This question is very relevant due to the fact that most of the research is dedicated to the academic achievements of young people and neglects those students who decide to continue their education and are willing to financially support their study.

Managerial application might be related to the marketing and promotional activities of universities. Moreover, knowledge about factors influencing academic achievement of adult students can help to build better educational programs.

The purpose of this study is to reveal the factors of academic achievement of adult students in programs of continuing education in the HSE in Perm.

The survey for the purpose of this research was carried out in two waves: in 2015 and 2016. Students' academic achievement data was taken for the first year of education at the HSE- Perm, because in this case we focus more on pure primary factors and avoid endogenous evolution of students' incentives.

In the study we were dealing with censored data, because it does not take into account those applicants who have made a non-random decision not to study at the NRU HSE in Perm. That is why the Heckman procedure was used, which allowed us to eliminate bias brought by self-selection.

Results of the study showed that the probability of completing the study depends on students' original intentions. Meanwhile, academic achievements of adult students depend mainly on financial considerations, such as their level of income and the source of the financial support of their study.


There is a rich body of literature devoted to the study of students' academic achievements. One group of researchers tries to identify factors that have an impact on the level of students' academic achievement (Ndlovu et al. 2013, Burrow, 2016). Other authors try to find ways to measure them (Briggs, 2004).

An important issue to continue studying this problem, for a number of reasons, is to reveal specific drivers of academic achievements of adult students who want continuing education programs. Continuing education is identified as a special track of educational programs that allow training to update knowledge and expertise, to change professions, or to be promoted. The demand for such educational programs has been recently increasing. Today a lot of adults are furthering their education to improve the professional skills and credentials that are needed in the shrinking job market. In this regard, universities and other educational organizations are bound to establish continuing educational programs that are a response to the market needs and help them to fund their activities. Meanwhile, with conditions of tough competition on the educational market universities have to properly build their marketing strategies to promote their educational products. This requires better understanding of the potential customers and their needs. The problem statements of our study refers to the distinguishing factors of continuing education. First, normal programs of this educational track are not funded by the state and require significant monetary investments from the student side. Moreover, apart from the financial issue, these programs challenge students' efforts and time investments more as they are usually combined with full-time employment, families, children, and other ordinary duties of adult people.

Our study aims to establish factors affecting adult students' ambitions, efforts and aspirations to study better followed by higher academic achievements. This paper introduces empirical analysis based on data from one of the Russian universities - National Research University Higher School of Economics in Perm. Having just internal validity, this examination still has room for more general academic discussion of continuing education programs in emerging educational systems.

This paper represents both academic and practical value. It contributes, on the one hand, to the existing literature on students' academic achievements as it looks for specific drivers for adults to take part in continuing education programs. This appears to be a current research gap. On the other hand, it might equip universities with decision-making tools to simulate development of their own continuing educational programs.

Despite a clear relevance to studying this research problem, identification and evaluation of drivers of students' academic performance does not have a standard solution yet. Recent studies distinguish several groups of factors that affect academic achievement. In this paper, we examine some studies that are mainly based on socio-demographic factors combined with students' perceptions on education, universities and job market challenges.

To study whether adult students have specific drivers to perform better in their academic activities we use data both on academic achievements of adult student in NRU HSE-Perm, and the results of the survey conducted during two admission campaigns in 2015 and 2016. NRU HSE is a leading Russian university in social sciences and has a long-standing history in continuous professional education programs for adult learners. This study was conducted in one of the four campuses of the University which is located in Perm. This campus has a more than 18-year history of implementing educational programs for adults. At the moment, Perm campus offers about 20 programs on different levels of education and forms. During 2 years, students interested in programs of HSE in Perm were asked to fill in questionnaires while applying to undergraduate programs. More than five hundred people were involved in this survey. Information about the performance of those students who were enrolled in different educational programs and have been successfully educated was taken from internal reports of NR|U HSE-Perm.

The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. Firstly, theoretical and empirical background dedicated to academic achievements was critically studied revealing certain gaps in the existing literature. Based on the previous studies for academic achievements in continuing professional education the assessment criteria and potential drivers that are specific for the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Perm was developed. Secondly, research methodology was introduced and justified. Then, the empirical results of the study were presented and interpreted. Finally, the last part contains some concluding remarks, managerial applications, limitations of research and there we also streamline the future room for the academic discussion.

1. Academic achievements of adult students: discussion in academic literature

The concept of academic achievements has been widely studied in various scientific researches. However, these studies mostly consider academic achievements of students receiving professional education for the first time (Wigfield, Eccles, 2000, Cassady, Johnson, 2002, Licht, Dweck, 1984, Park, Kerr, 1990). A small numbers of studies pay attention to adult learners (Burrow, 2016, Ndlovu et al. 2013, Merriam, Caffarella, 2007). As we can see, the recent trend is considering adult students as a very important part of the educational system, so that the number of researchers who are turning their attention into this subject area is continuing to grow.

There is no commonly accepted definition of this phenomenon, as well as no universal methodology that allows us to identify the factors determining success or failure in academia. According to the Oxford Dictionary academic achievements represent students' performance that indicate their efforts to achieve particular purposes. The term “academic achievements” may refer to a large variety of educational outcomes, that is why the definition depends on the characteristics used to measure it. The general understanding of academic achievements includes grades or other performance which may be evaluated by different testing systems.

Academic achievement theory development gave rise to a larger number of methods to measure it, for example intelligence tests of Binet and Simon. (Boake, 2002) The basic sight into empirical and theoretical base of academic achievements determinants could be found in Woolfolk's (2007) works concerning educational psychology.

All scientific papers about academic achievements can be divided into groups. So that, several papers have focused mainly on selected determinants of academic achievements or on special predictors of them. According to them it is more appropriate to reveal predictors of academic achievements instead of determinants of them. The quality of teaching, in particular, has been emphasized as a predictor of student achievement. Large-scale scholastic achievement assessments provide an overview of the current state of research on academic achievement. From the scientific point of view, it is very important to compare different education systems on the international level. Moreover, this concept allows us to deal with this comparison and evaluates different educational systems with each other. However, it should be mentioned critically that this approach may, to some degree, overestimate the practical significance of differences between the countries. (Spinath, 2012).

Some researches paid increasing attention to the role of family background and family situations. A current work provides an overview of the empirical findings on academic achievement by distinguishing between individual, home, and scholastic determinants of academic achievement according to theoretical assumptions. (Hattie, 2009) The individual's performance correlates with university students' performance on the whole. The importance of academic achievements may be considered in different perspectives, for example for individuals and societies. (Richardson, et al. 2012)

The prediction and the analysis of the students' academic performance is not an easy one. Based on the definition of academic achievement that we will be referring to in this paper, motivation plays an important role with which a person comes to the educational institution. In this connection the concept of school education, university education as well as adult education in order to obtain additional skills should be distinguished.

Adult students or adult learners are the certain category of people, who requires an individual approach. Adult learners are persons who are older than 25 years and involved in the learning process. Usually scientists identify them as more developed students.

But we cannot say that only age determines whether a person becomes an adult student or not. There are some characteristics of mature students according to which we can identify this category. The following psychosocial factors can provide a portrait of the adult student:

· time of enrollment - usually time lag when entering the new education;

· full time employment (more than 35 hours per week);

· financially independent person;

· may have dependents - child, parents, spouse or others;

· psychological aspects of learners such as energy, health, vision and hearing;

· personality and cognition.

One of the basic approaches to building the concept of adult learning is the basis that this category of people is self-directed and self-motivated. The ordinary, mature student can be described as a person who is ready to learn and obtain new competencies. He/she has already recognized the need for new skills and knowledge. This person wants to use his time and money in a more productive way, because he/she considers them as the most valuable resource. (Knowles, 2002) Adults have some connections with their family, friends, work and community. They do not want to lose them just because of University enrollment. (Lakin, 2009)

As we said earlier, mature students are self-directed and self-motivated. It means that adult learners are independent of others and can estimate for themselves their progress in the training field. In view of the fact that they have self-motivation, it is easy enough to compare their expectations with the skills they actually receive from the educational process. Nowadays the trend is that adult students are learning not only for the technical skills, but also for communication and experience exchange. (Kidd, 1973) Because of this, returning adults need to have enough variety of education programs to meet their expectations in a closer way. (Merriam, Caffarella, Baumgartner, 2007)

According to motivation for continuing education, adult students are characterized by their ability to problem-centered approach to thinking. Moreover, experience in life skills should not be excluded. Some mistakes that occur may be transferred into opportunities for new learning. (Kidd, 1973)

Table 1. Determinants of academic achievements in different groups of researches

Erdogan, Bayram, Deniz, 2008

Ndlovu, Moyo, 2013

Krammer, Sammer, Avendasy, 2016

Overwalle, 1989



Occupational status

Cognitive abilities (past performance, academic ability)

Marital status


Salary level

Social factors (socioeconomic status, home environment, social relations)


Financial status

Job performance

Perceived causality

Work experience

Family size and marital status

Reaction to stress



Access to instructional material

Personality traits

Learning strategies

Internet use

Learning style

Emotional stability

Academic self-concept


The first group of research concluded that gender, marital status, work experience and age influence academic achievement while faculty of graduation and internet use per day are not statistically significant. Ndlovu, Moyo, 2013 found that age and marital status do affect academic achievements, while financial status does not influence academic performance. Attendance, self-concept and learning style are very important factors for improving academic performance and have a positive correlation with achievements.

To sum up, the above mentioned determinants of academic achievements were studied mainly in developed academic markets. However can we assume the same for the emerging higher education system of Russia? And Perm region, specifically? This study aims at discovering the specific drivers of academic achievements of adult students under specific conditions. For that we explore the case of HSE in Perm educational programs.

All of these studies have something in common and help to look at the problem of academic achievement from two points of view: in terms of socio-demographic characteristics, and in terms of behavior characteristics.

2. Emerging educational systems: common features and discrepancies with the developed markets

Since 2009 the Russian education system has gone to a tiered system that did not exist before in contrast to Europe and North America, where this education system has existed for many years. It means we have the process of setting up, adapting and understanding how this system operates. During this period, we can see some conflicts between the old and the new education systems. Today in Russia both systems function - specialist (5-6 years of education) and bachelor/master (4+2 years of education). However, when entering the university students cannot pick and choose the form of education.

It was originally planned that the old system (specialists) would eventually give way to a two-tier system. However, after the introduction of the principles of the Bologna system, it was revealed that a number of specialties (especially technical and medical) are unable to prepare a full-fledged graduate in 4 years. Therefore, many technical and medical specialties are still learning as specialists, while the majority of the humanities and natural sciences specialties switched to bachelor/master degree.

This situation creates conflicts. The new education system has been designed to completely replace the specialty, but now it turns out that they exist in parallel, creating confusion in the education market and the labor market as well. Moreover, the bachelor degree in most universities did not become a new, more modern form of education. Thus, most bachelors program are specialties, but without one year of studying. (Dalinger, 2012)

The education system has changed by both the Bologna Process, as well as because of changes in the labor market in Russia. Nowadays higher education is a necessity, because without it, it is not possible to get a job, even in those specialties where a secondary vocational education would be enough. Any employer puts higher education as one of the basic requirements. According to the World Higher Education Database, Russia is one of the leading countries on the index of education and higher education coverage. The leading position in the adult education level of the population is held by three countries - the United States, Norway, and Israel, in which 30% of the population aged 25-64 have completed higher education. Nowadays there is a tendency to accelerate the growth of higher education in many countries. Despite what is mentioned above the Russian secondary vocational education system is developed. Russia is among the top three countries with the most developed system of secondary vocational education like in Canada and Japan. Young people who received a profession from a secondary vocational education still tend to continue their education and receive a higher education.

Modern professional education is not adjusted to economics needs. Higher professional educational institutions offer new economic and legal programs, which are considered prestigious among young people and which are a source of funds for admission to universities. It should be noted that graduates are not insured against unemployment. Among the unemployed youth are about 2.5% of graduates. A big part of the students guided by opportunistic considerations get a second higher education. (Medvedeva, Barkova, 2013)

Over the past few decades the Russian labor market has changed. Some careers fall into the category of non-prestigious, others the opposite. It means that adults who learned the profession a long time ago are faced with the fact that today their profession may be not relevant in the labor market. In this regard, they have to get a new profession. Figure 1 provides statistical data from NRU HSE about the number of graduates during five academic years.

Figure 1. Number of graduated students in NRU HSE

As we can see from the graph, during the five academic years more than 28 thousand people graduated from NRU HSE professional education programs.

The personnel policy of the business community is to hire "trained specialists" that have an existing professional experience and lack the need for additional education. Also, in fact, the employer is indifferent to the origin of the knowledge (in particular the status and profile of the original higher educational institution). This implies a low interest in investing in human capital. The latest trend is evident not only in the critical attitude to the systematic improvement of professional skills of employees, but also in determining the wage scale at the minimum competitive level. (Endovitsky, Titov, 2011)

Continuing professional education is never free. In most cases the person pays for it himself, thus it is called personal investments. The practice of the Company's funding employees training is not developed. Based on NRU HSE statistics during the last 5 years only 3% of students are educated at the employer's expense. The rest pay tuition at their own expense. Also a system of financing sources of continuing education is not developed. This is explained by little educational credits. The system of educational credits in Russia is still underdeveloped. The state program of supporting educational credits was approved by the Ministry of Education only in 2013. Prior to that, for seven years, officials carried out efforts to subsidize student loans, trying to attract the banks to develop this type of lending. Nowadays few banks are interested in lending money for educational purposes. If we look at international experience, interest rates will be lower, long-term lending will be available, ease in matters of credit payment, as well as assistance from the university for applying for credits will exist.

Studies show the dominance of income-related issues with a regard to student's loan across all of the households groups. It means that the lower the income, the higher the probability to apply for a loan. Russian universities have an excellent opportunity to enhance the demand for higher education by supporting the system of students' loans such as in Europe or North America. (Androushchak, Spiridonova, 2007)

3. NRU HSE case: western academic traditions on Russian educational markets - pro and cons

The Higher School of Economics is a research university carrying out research, education, expert-analytical and socio-cultural activities based on the international scientific and organizational standards.

Since its founding in 1992, the National Research University - Higher School of Economics (HSE) has developed from an economics institute into a comprehensive university. HSE is composed of more than 20 faculties, including electronics, computer science, mathematics, communications, media, design, world economy and international affairs, and most recently physics. The HSE offers outstanding educational programs from secondary school to doctoral studies, with top departments and research centers in a number of international fields.

Shortly after its founding, the HSE began to offer continuing professional education programs for adults seeking advanced vocational training, occupational retraining, or a second degree. Programs are offered in business informatics, practical psychology, corporate governance, and construction and municipal services. The HSE's continuing education programs work closely with the university's faculties, research centers, and laboratories and they are taught by highly qualified instructors.

The HSE is based in Moscow, with branches in St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and Perm. The Higher School of Economics in Perm was established in 1997. At that time the Higher School of Economics was a very young university with no more than 2,000 students. The main objective was to launch strong educational programs in economics, management, and later in business informatics and humanities. The educational programs in quantitative terms are presented in Table 2. In the initial stages of the development the Perm branch performed well at this task, having built one of the strongest bachelor programs in these areas.

Table 2. The dynamics of educational programs in the NRU HSE - Perm











Areas of education (Bachelor)










Masters programs










All the administrative model of HSE in Perm, as well as in the University generally, built under the effective implementation of the educational function: built faculty-department organizational structure (Table 3) to attract the best professors within the Perm academic market. A retraining system for professors was organized in leading Western universities that allowed the HSE to implement the best practices for teaching economic disciplines.

Table 3. Structural changes in the educational departments of NRU HSE - Perm































including basic




















In 2009 the University entered a new development stage. The University significantly expanded the range of its competences in the socio-humanitarian areas that changed its mission. Having the status of a research university, the HSE has committed itself to reach a qualitatively new level in their academic results. One indicator of this claim is an academic scientific activity indicator (table 4). Most importantly, educational programs have ceased to be the only "product" of the university. In addition to the educational programs of the HSE is the goal to produce high-quality basic and applied research on priority subjects. Perm campus as part of a distributed university embarked on a new direction of development.

Table 4. Academics scientific activity indicators of NRU HSE - Perm










All publications









Papers in scientific journals









Participating at conferences









Also HSE campus in Perm actively developed in the field of adult education programs. The main types of educational activities of the branch in this subject area include the implementation of:

· second higher education programs,

· upgrade qualification programs,

· occupational retraining programs,

· corporate trainings,

· seminars and trainings.

The number of programs and the number of alumnus for the adult education changes of the whole campus is presented in the table 5.

In 2015 Perm campus of the HSE implemented 84 programs for adult learners, 4 of which are second higher education programs, 69 of which are upgrade qualification programs, 15 of which are occupational retraining programs. Moreover, 21 short-terms programs were implemented in the campus (seminars, trainings, workshops).

Table 5. Number of programs and the number of alumnus for the adult education in NRU HSE - Perm*

Programs format

Quantity of programs

Quantity of alumnus

2011 / 12

2012 /13

2013/ 14






/ 12

2012/ 13

2013/ 14




Advanced training of civil servants











Upgrade qualifications











Occupational retraining











Second higher education program






















In the last 4 years there has been a steady increase in demand for a second higher education program (figure 2).

Figure 2 Number of incoming persons

4. Research design: from enrollment campaign to learning outcomes and academic achievements of adult students

According to the problem statement of this research we have to reveal the specific factors of adult students to put effort, invest time and money in their continuing education. Moreover, we tend to identify drivers of better academic achievements. The empirical analysis is based on the first year academic performance of HSE students measured by Grade Point Average (GPA). The GPA is a commonly used indicator calculated by taking the number of grade points a student earned in a given period of time. For this study it is critically important to focus just on early academic achievements of adult students as we target initial drivers of their achievements, unrelated to their peer's effect and other factors that might be considered endogenous. The potential drivers of adult student motivation to study were found by a survey conducted during two admission campaigns in 2015 and 2016. The questionnaire was designed to reveal the following:

· Socio-demographic indicators: age, sex, marital status etc.

· Professional and educational experience: experience on the position, level and type of occupation, previous studies and university etc.

· Subjective perceptions of educational programs: programs of interest, reasons to choose particular programs, factors of quality that students find the most important etc.

· Financial factors: source of financing for educational programs, monthly income of a family (sized by a number of family members) etc.

This survey was conducted among all persons who applied to the HSE continuing educational programs in 2015 and 2016. Still, not all of them were finally enrolled in the programs. That led us to the censored data since academic achievements are observable only for those students that have been studied. To avoid self-selection bias brought by the nonrandom factors that selected students during admission campaigns we applied the Heckman two-step procedure for our estimations.

Heckman's model is one of the statistical methods that can be used to estimate determinants of academic achievements under conditions of censored data. As has been previously stated, statistical analyses based on non-randomly selected samples can lead to erroneous conclusions. Heckman suggests a special correction based on a two-step statistical approach that offers a means of correcting for non-randomly selected samples. The correction uses a control function idea and it is easy to implement. Heckman's correction involves a normality assumption, provides a test for sample selection bias and formula for bias corrected model. This model supposes that the functional form of the causal relationship between treatment, outcome and covariates is linear. (Heckman, J., 1979)

At the first stage a model based on economic theory should be formulated. At the second stage the researcher corrects for self-selection by incorporating a transformation of these predicted individual probabilities as an additional explanatory variable. (Heckman, Robb, 1986).

The econometric strategy based on Heckman correction procedure is introduced in the specification (formula 1.1 and 1.2).

In the first stage the following equation has to be considered:


where Enr indicates the fact of enrollment to the program (Enr = 1 if the respondent is enrolled and Enr = 0 otherwise), Z is a vector of explanatory variables that according to our educated guess effect a probability to be enrolled during an admission campaign, is a vector of unknown parameters - coefficients, and is the cumulative distribution function - probit in our case. Estimation of the model yields results that can be used to predict this employment probability for each individual.

On the second stage, we have to correct for self-selection by incorporating a transformation of these predicted individual probabilities as an additional explanatory variable. The main equation may be specified as a linear regression:


where GPA is an exploratory variable is caused according to our hypothesis by several factors measured by vector of X () CV- a vector of control variables. The key control variables are responsible for the intellectual, cognitive and other important abilities to study. It is measured by the GPA from the previous diploma. We moreover control for the education field, level of the previous education and university. The Heckman correction procedure led to one more explanatory variable - с is the correlation between unobserved determinants of propensity to be enrolled and unobserved determinants of academic achievements, is the standard deviation of probability to be enrolled, and is Heckman's lambda which is the inverse Mills ratio evaluated at . This equation demonstrates Heckman's insight that sample selection can be viewed as a form of omitted-variables bias, as conditional on both X and on it is as if the sample is randomly selected.

The next section introduces some descriptive statistics of our sample of students and applicants for HSE continuing educational programs.

5. Data and methodology: students' survey and tracking of academic achievements

Based on the literature review, a questionnaire has been developed for interviewing potential applicants that are interested in a second higher educational program or higher education programs after graduation from college. The survey involved applicants who applied to the selection committee with a particular issue. It should be noted that not all applicants who participated in the survey were enrolled in the study at the HSE in Perm, either due to the fact that they had not submitted documents or filed but did not pass the entrance test.

The questionnaire consisted of 22 questions. The first set of questions in the questionnaire dealt with the socio-demographic characteristics of the potential applicants. The next set of questions aimed at revealing any educational program and how schools interested the applicant and why he decided to continue his studies. Other questions allow us to estimate what resources they have and how much they are ready to use to further their education. In April 2015 the questionnaire was tested on a group of students that consists of 25 students.

Data collection was conducted in two waves: in May and September 2015 and in May and September 2016. The questionnaire for the survey in 2015 and 2016 was the same. The approach to the formation of the sample was determined by two main factors: the purpose of the study and the number of students who came to the selection committee of HSE in Perm. To estimate the volume of the universe initially did not seem possible. academic student educational

In 2015 there were 236 profiles collected, 22 were culled, and 214 were taken for work. In 2016 there were 210 profiles collected, 21 were culled, and 289 were taken for work. For data analysis was used statistical package «Stata» and for diagrams «Excel» was used. Data of the students' performance enrolled in the second higher education programs were taken from internal sources of the HSE in Perm. In 2015 and in 2016 the majority of the respondents were female (fig. 3). Firstly, this distribution was due to the fact that most males of post-secondary vocational educational institution must undergo military service in the army.

Figure 3. Respondents distribution by gender in 2015 and 2016 years

The average age of the respondents in 2015 was 24,6. Wherein, the age of the two oldest applicants was 44 years. The youngest students were 18, and there were a total of 14 who came to the selection committee. In 2016 the average age of the applicants decreased by about 1 year and amounted 23,1 years. Wherein, the maximum age was 51 years and the minimum age was 17 years old.

Regarding to marital status of applicants in 2015 and 2016 most of the students were not married (see fig. 4).

Figure 4. Marital status of the respondents

It needs to be said that in 2015 the married respondents were 5,6% more than in 2016. Probably this is due to the fact that the average age of the respondents in 2015 was higher than in 2016. Also it may be assumed that in 2015 the number of people who were married was more due to the fact that this year the number of respondents who already had a higher education was more than in 2016 (fig. 5). Now young people prefer to start a family after receiving higher education.

Figure 5. The respondents level of education

More than a third of respondents (40,6 % - in 2015 year; 32,5% - 2016 year) work in the service sector. In second place is the production area in which are involved about 14% of the respondents both in 2015 and in 2016. In the public sector there is about 10% of respondents in 2015 and around 9% in 2016. It is noteworthy that in 2015 there were no students working in the field of agriculture. In 2016 only one person was from this sphere. Also, the applicants indicated that they are working in areas such as medicine, pharmaceuticals, IT, energy and trade.

The income level for more than half of the respondents both in 2015 and in 2016 was up to 30,000 rubles (Fig. 6). About 20% of respondents earn from 30,000 rubles to 40,000 rubles. A salary of more than 100,000 rubles was received by about 3% of respondents. It should be noted that the level of income in 2015 and 2016 are identical. The low income level may be due to the fact that the majority of respondents did not have a higher education at the survey time.

Figure 6. The respondents level of personal income in 2015 and 2016 years

Predominantly to pay for studying, applicants (more than 50% of respondents) plan from their own savings, as well as from the monthly family income (40% of respondents). It should be noted that young people under the age of 22 years with secondary vocational education (35% in 2015 and 48% in 2016) rely on financial support from their parents.

In answer to the question "Why did you decide to continue education" the majority of students (78% in 2015 and 82% in 2016) have indicated that they need to move up the career ladder. The second most popular reason is an extension of their own knowledge. This answer was given by the respondents about 77% of the time. "Establishing of new contacts" was the answer of 31% of respondents in 2015 and 24% in 2016. The least common cause was the answer "I was sent by the organization in which I work." In 2015 this reason has not a single respondent and in 2016 it was only 1.4% of respondents.

When choosing a university most of the respondents relied on the parent's opinion (fig. 7). This is due to the fact that the predominant parts of the respondents are young people under the age of 22 years having secondary professional education and living with their parents. Also, friends and the media have an impact on the formation of opinion about the University. These categories were marked mostly by older persons and those with higher education.

Figure 7. Respondents answers to question “Whose opinion is the most important to you when deciding on choosing the university?”

When choosing a university, the major factors for respondents were the quality of professors and staff (70% of respondents), as well as the university status (53% of respondents) and prestige (47% of respondents). Least of all the respondents pay attention to the location of the university and on those, who trained there (fig. 8).

Figure 8. Reasons for university selection

It should be noted that the majority of respondents indicated in the questionnaire their surname, first name and patronymic name that allowed us to trace their further trajectory: entered or not, what is the level of academic achievement.

6. Empirical results

The results of estimations of the model (formula 1.1 and 1.2) are introduced in table 6. The main equation (row 1) introduces estimation of parameters that explain marginal growth of GPA. The equation (row 2) estimates drivers of probability to be enrolled in the programs. The row (3) shows lambda - Heckman correction parameter. Notably, that lambda is statistically significant. That means that our guess about a selection bias was correct and students that are enrolled in HSE continuing educational programs are not randomly selected and those factors that influence the probability to be enrolled simultaneously affect their academic achievements. Still, most of these factors are either unobservable or just partially measured by the survey conducted.

Table 6. Result of estimations with the Heckman correction procedure






Probability to be enrolled


Previous GPA








Marital status: married





Professional experience





Occupation: specialist





Occupation: specialist functional specialist





Occupation: specialist middle-managers





Occupation: specialist top-managers





Occupation: unemployed





Educational level





Previous university: PSPU





Previous university: Field university





Previous university: non-Perm university





Previous university: Perm colleges





Previous university: non-Perm colleges





Previous educational field: econ/management





Previous educational field: math





Previous educational field: pedagogical





Previous educational field: law





Previous educational field: sciences





Previous educational field: medicine





Reason to study: purview





Reason to study: networks





Reason to study: career





Reason to study: training empl





Reason to study: with friends





Reason to study: certificate





Reason to study: new position





Programs of interest: bachelor's



Programs of interest: master's



Programs of interest: MBA



Programs of interest: train



Experience of study: in other university



Experience of study: in this university



Reference goup: spouse



Reference goup: parents



Reference goup: child



Reference goup: colleague



Reference goup: friend



Reference goup: media



Significance of tuition fee:



Significance of tuition fee:



Monthly personal income: 30-40 th



Monthly personal income: 40-60 th



Monthly personal income: 60-80 th



Monthly personal income: 80-100 th



Monthly personal income: more than 100 th



Monthly family income: 30-40 th



Monthly family income: 40-60 th



Monthly family income: 60-80 th



Monthly family income: 80-100 th



Monthly family income: more than 100 th



Number of family members



Share of income invested in education



Hours dedicated to study



Source of funding: loan





Source of funding: savings





Source of funding: monthly income





Source of funding: parents help





Source of funding: employer





Source of funding: sponsor





Source of funding: other





Relevant factors: faculty



Relevant factors: location_uni



Relevant factors: state status of university



Relevant factors: tuition fee



Relevant factors: peers



Relevant factors: alumni



Relevant factors: reputation of university



Relevant factors: employment opportunity



Relevant factors: diploma reputation















Standard errors in parentheses: *** p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.1

As seen from table 6 the model is statistically significant having several parameters to be interpreted. In order to give an explanation of the results some light has to be shed on the process of admission campaigns. It should be emphasized one more time that not all admissions are transferred in educational contracts. In other words, those students who had applied to the selection committee and those who have decided finally to study are not always the same persons. Each year 15-20% of students take their documents away. Mostly these are those people who simultaneously have submitted documents to several universities and programs and finally have preferred different places than HSE to study. According to the information received from these applicants we can conclude that cost of education is a key issue, so that non-HSE students choose state-funded places or educational programs with a lower tuition fee. To sum up, those applicants who sign a contract with the HSE - Perm are the most interested, motivated students who have made an informed and conscious choice.

The first step was to determine the factors that affect the decision of students to stay in the HSE-Perm. The results show that people who are married are more likely to sign educational contracts after application. On the one hand, this can be explained by the fact that married people tend to perform any obligations including those related to their education. On the other hand, the educational process is kind of like switching to a new activity which allows them to take a break from their routines.

The higher probability to study is observed for those who received their first education in one of the specialized universities. Such, for example, as the Medical Academy, Institute of Culture and Arts, Pharmaceutical Academy, Pedagogical University and others. This is due to the fact that the education at the NRU HSE will allow them to get an entirely new profession and, therefore, provide an opportunity to engage in a completely new profession. Also the higher willingness to get new education is observed for those who received the first profession in regional branches of universities or in universities that are not located in Perm city. Employers might better recognize the quality of education by local or metropolitan universities and are not always ready to rely on the quality of education of universities from other peripheral cities or their affiliates. It is a reason why some people have to be educated in the universities of the city, especially in those which employers have a high degree of trust.

Not surprisingly that factor associated with sources of funding for education are of particular importance. If the financing is supported by an educational loan, the employer or the parents' expenses, students will tend to complete their education. Meanwhile, that is not reflected in academic achievements. For a greater GPA a financial source is different and refers to personal monthly income.

Those applicants who choose a university based on the parameters such as the status of the university and its reputation on the labor market, the tuition fee asked by the University, as well as the recommendation of friends that graduated from it before signing a contract with the university and successfully complete their studies. The higher the level of the applicants' serious intentions, the higher the probability that they don't go to another university and complete education at the HSE -Perm.

On the other hand, if applicants at the admission holds the position associated with the implementation of specific functional responsibilities, for example, an accountant, lawyer, programmer, etc., and as a rule, obtained his first degree in this specialty, then chances that they complete the educational program are quite low. Generally, such students have a low level of motivation, because they already have a certain profession in which they are developing. Also the research results show that the probability of completing education of students with pedagogical education is much lower than those who have economic education. Moreover, those applicants who are considering further education as a way to promote their career have lower probability to start their study.

At the second stage the factors influencing academic achievement of adults were tested. Research has shown that high academic performance depends on skills and knowledge of the applicants measured by GPA from the previous diploma. This control factor shows that generally our model is properly specified. It is interesting that the performance is higher for those students who pay for their studies from personal income. Moreover, the academic achievements depend on the students' monthly income level. Those students whose month income level is between 40 000 and 100 000 rubles have higher academic performance.

Such factors as learning experience in similar programs at other universities have a negative impact on the students' academic progress. That may occur due to the fact that HSE sets relatively higher requirements and implements approaches for education that are not common for other Russian universities. Students' previous educational experience might obstruct their adjustment to HSE and those students are less integrated into the educational process of HSE. Also a lower performance is observed for those students who indicated that they want to continue their education to broaden their horizons and purview or because they just followed their friends.

Conclusion and discussion

This study addresses the question about drivers of academic achievement of adult students in continuing education programs. Based on the literature and survey data and empirical investigation of two NRU HSE admission campaigns has been carried out. We have come up with the problem of adult students with a guess that these cohort has specific incentives to perform better their education due to their professional experience, financial issues and maturity. As a result of an empirical investigation of applicants' socio-demographic factors and subjective perceptions and NRU HSE students' academic performance a number of findings should be emphasized.

As was revealed information on academic achievements has made our data censored due to self-selection bias. Heckman correction has enabled consistent estimates of parameters. Socio-demographic factors such as marital status, and professional and educational background influence probability to be enrolled in the program in admission campaigns. Reasons for applying to HSE programs have a strong influence on decision to study as that reflects students' original intentions. Meanwhile, these factors have failed to find empirical evidence for higher academic achievements. The most crucial drivers of academic achievements that have been set refer to financial reasons. Students with not very high and not very low incomes outperform those from two marginal classes of wealth. The source of financial support is also very important. Thus, those students that pay for the education from their own salary or income study relatively better.

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