The dropout rate is an indicator of complex analysis and there is no consensus on its significance. Universities lack systematized, univocal methods for collecting student dropout data, making measurement problematic. In consequence, the formulas applied to analyze this phenomenon differ between countries and it is therefore an immense challenge to perform comparative studies. The aim of this paper is to provide a general overview of student dropout in Spain and in Catalonia compared to other international university contexts. Compiled data come from several reports produced by national and international organizations as well as by a research project funded by the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU). The perspective provided on how this phenomenon is being studied and dealt with in several contexts may help design actions to increase student retention and performance in higher education institutions (HEIs).