Teo Matković, Irena Kogan
Relative worth of a bachelor degree: Patterns of labour market integration among drop-outs and graduates in sequential and integrated tertiary education systems

Acta Sociologica, 2014: 57, Heft 2, S. 101-118
ISSN: 0001-6993 (print); 1502-3869 (online)

This article considers the implications of sequential segmentation in the tertiary education set-up for stratification of labour market outcomes among university drop-outs and graduates. Building on signalling, queuing, credentialist and human capital framework, we articulate theoretical expectations about labour market entry patterns for tertiary education graduates and drop-outs emerging from two distinct types of tertiary education institutional set-up: integrated (diploma) and sequential (bachelor-master) systems. In particular, we explore whether bachelor graduates from sequentially organized systems perform substantially better in the labour market compared to drop-outs from integrated systems who have completed a comparable amount of coursework. Empirically, we rely on two recent surveys pertaining to tertiary education leavers from the Ukrainian sequential system and the Croatian integrated system. Our results indicate that, with regard to the patterns of higher-status job entry, diploma and master degree holders enjoy the most substantial advantages of quicker job entry in both countries. However, bachelor graduates from the Ukrainian sequential tertiary education system clearly have an advantage over those who dropped out, whereas in the Croatian integrated tertiary education system we observe no differences in access to salariat jobs among drop-outs, regardless of amount of coursework they have completed. Selectivity is unlikely to explain observed differences in outcomes, as both countries demonstrate very similar patterns of selection into and through academic tertiary education.