Abstract Over the last three decades there have been in Portugal a quite huge public investment in the school system and the implementation of an effective compulsory education. These changes came along with the democratization of school experience. Moreover the increase in the number of students in higher education is a national goal that have been pursued by education policy. Families, with fewer children, the perception of higher studies as a way to move up in the social ladder and better life conditions have an active behaviour on behalf of their children education. However, in spite of all the government and parents investment in children education, school failure is a major problem that affects all levels of education. At university level school failure affects mainly undergraduate students in their first year of studies1. This problem is a major concern for those involved in higher education political definition and this is why it becomes a research field of much interest. This paper intends to shed some light on the determinants of academic performance of undergraduate students of the School of Economics and Management in their first year of studies. Following Dollado and Morales (2007) we will measure success in academic performance using the exam´s marks in three 1st year subjects with decreasing degrees of mathematical complexity, Maths, Economy 1 and Management and Economic History. In this paper we go further than Dollado and Morales (2007) since, besides type of school, specialization track at high school and marks obtained at the university entry-exam, we study the role of individual characteristics, family socio-economic background and pre-university school trajectory on the academic performance. We put an emphasis on the effect of transitions from public\private or private\public schools and from in-home to out-home.Success/failure in Graduation; Examination Marks; 1st. Year Critical Subjects; Family's Social & Economic Background; Previous Schooling; Portugal
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