High dropout rates risk undermining progress in improving access to higher education, the education secretary has said.
New figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that the fallout rate into the second year of university has dipped slightly nationally, with 6.3% (compared to 6.4% the previous year) of first degree students aged under 21 not continuing study after their first year.
The HESA report states: “The latest figures show that nationally 6.3% of entrants from 2016/17 did not appear as second year students in HESA’s student data for 2017/18. Indicators for individual universities and colleges range from 1.0% to 18.6%.”
Hinds said: “Every step we make on access is undermined if a larger number students then drop out of their courses.”
He added: “Universities need to look at these statistics and take action to reduce dropout rates.
If they don’t, we have given the Office for Students power to take action. I expect them to do that and challenge institutions to look at what support they can offer – particularly to disadvantaged and underrepresented groups – to turn these figures around.”
From the archive: Can technology help reduce dropout rates?
‘Geomapping highlights those students who are chronically absent—identifying who they are and showing where they’re located on a map – meaning attendance officers can determine the most problematic areas, and accurately predict the potential number of student dropouts for an academic year, enabling the department to intervene at the right time to help reduce it.’ Click here for the full article
In terms of UK domiciled full-time undergraduate entrants for academic years of entry 2015/16 to 2016/17, outperforming the average are Cambridge with 1% drop out; closely followed by Oxford at 1.2% and the Royal College of Music at 1.5%. Those with the highest drop out rates are London Metropolitan University at 18.6% – nearly three times worse than the average; The University of Bolton, at 15.4% and the University of Bedfordshire at 15.2%.
A London Met spokesperson said: “We are proud to be the most socially inclusive university in England, but that also means that our students often have more complex lives than their peers at other institutions, and this impacts on their continuation. We work hard to create a supportive environment in which our students can learn and thrive and in recent years we have invested in improved support services for our students.”
In other HESA news: New figures suggest social mobility under threat in higher education