Hesa releases latest non-continuation figures

The figures reflect existing trends that students with lower entry grades or from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to drop out of higher education

Student dropout rates remained level for 2018/19, according to new figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Next year’s figures will show what impact the pandemic had on university drop out rates.

The percentage of young, full-time degree entrants that drop out has remained “very stable” over the last five years, Hesa said.

Figures have ranged from 6.5% to 6.8% since 2014/15 – and this year’s national figure of 6.7% falls within that range. This number represents those that did not continue past their first year but remained in higher education for at least 50 days.

Learners from POLAR 4 neighbourhoods were the most likely to drop out. POLAR 4 is a classification for students from neighbourhoods in the country with the lowest levels of HE participation – and it is used as a measure of deprivation. In England, 9% of students from the most deprived neighbourhoods drop out in their first year, compared to 6.4% of students from other areas.

Overall, Oxford, Cambridge, Bath, Bristol and Imperial College have the lowest drop out rates. Those HE providers with the highest drop out rates tend to be small, private providers. The publicly-funded providers with the highest drop out rates tend to be lower-tariff providers, like Bedfordshire, Suffolk, and London Metropolitan.

Non-continuation rates are highest among students who entered higher education with the lowest qualifications: just 1.7% of students with at least three As at A-level did not complete their studies, compared to 4.3% of students with three Cs. BTEC students were also more likely not to complete their degrees (11.8%).

More than one in 10 (11.1%)  of the 2019/20 cohort are projected to leave higher education without a qualification.

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