The son of my neighbour finished school a year ago and went to a renown University studying a technical subject. He told me, after one year of studying, that it’s very hard to master all the tasks and that he has been prepared rather poorly for this at our school, were he attended the academic secondary school (AHS). Fellows having been at more technical oriented vocational secondary schools (HTL) do much better and it is much easier for them, he says.
His report is not surprising, it’s what you probably thought to be obvious — at least I did. I was astonished however to read how big the differences are. As our school delivers (so called) general education this is a permanent question of issue: are students of such a school although not equipped with special knowledge more versatile and can adapt more quickly? The answer in the MINT/STEM-area seems to be: no.
For my country, Austria, a very elaborated survey was done and evaluated (by IHS) was done to evaluate how students of MINT-subjects perform at university and what factors are important, some of the results have been published in Der Standard. At our school a very special type of education is possible: it was planned in very close relationship to Plansee AG, technical subjects have been invented, even practicing at workshops is done. And each student has its own laptops which is used in many ways.
The results regarding the influence of education at public universities are very impressive: male graduates of technical schools finish university 1.4 times as often as graduates of general schools overall. This number is even more impressive: 1.8 times as often when studying computer science.
The numbers for female graduates are smaller, the prerequisites seem to be of much less importance overall (1.2 compared to 1.4) — but for computer science the number is almost 3!
Only a third of the students are female in MINT/STEM subjects. That’s a pity, although we at our school would be glad if we had such a women share.
Source: Binder, David, Bianca Thaler, Martin Unger, Brigitte Ecker, Patrick Mathä, and Sarah Zaussinger. “MINT An Öffentlichen Universitäten, Fachhochschulen Sowie Am Arbeitsmarkt; Eine Bestandsaufnahme; Endbericht.”(2017)