A flawed Higher Education strategy leads to high drop out rates………….

  • Around one in ten undergraduates drop out after just a year of studying at 20 universities across the country, new research reveals.
  • Ten per cent of students fail to continue into their second-year at institutions including Teesside, Leeds Beckett, Bedfordshire and Central Lancashire.
  • London Metropolitan University is the worst offender, with around one in five students not continuing their studies beyond the first year.

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The figures were revealed by the Social Market Foundation (SMF), which warned that universities in England have not made ‘significant progress’ in reducing drop-out rates.

The SMF analysed data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Researchers found that overall 5.9 per cent of full time UK undergraduates dropped out of English universities in 2014/15 after their first year of studies. This was up from 5.7 per cent in 2013/14.

In 2014/15, 1.1 per cent of Cambridge University students quit after the first year compared to 18.9 per cent at London Metropolitan University. Twenty institutions in 2014/15 had at least 9.7 per cent of undergraduates fail to continue with their degree studies after the first year. These included Staffordshire, London South Bank, Birkbeck College, Middlesex and Bolton universities.

Overall, the SMF found almost 50 universities were ‘either making no progress or going backwards on continuation rates’. Most of the institutions making in-roads demonstrate ‘modest progress’, with very few making ‘radical improvements’.

The report, Staying the Course, shows that retention rates have barely moved since 2009/10 and are ‘stubbornly lower’ for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Around eight per cent of students from areas where few participate in higher education did not continue with their university studies in 2014/15, compared to just over six per cent in other areas.

However, universities including City University London, Aston, Lincoln and Kingston have among the highest retention rates for the most disadvantaged students. Drop-out rates vary ‘widely’ across England, with four percentage points between the best and worst performing regions.

London Metropolitan University is the worst offender, with around one in five students not continuing their studies beyond the first year In 2012/13, London universities had a non-continuation rate at the end of year one of 9.6 per cent compared to 5.5 per cent in the North East.

The report found that institutions where students were ‘more satisfied’ tended to have higher retention rates. It adds: ‘Students from more disadvantaged areas are more likely to drop out; and institutions with higher average UCAS tariff scores or with a higher league table ranking, have better non-continuation rates.’

Emran Mian, SMF director and author of the new report, said: ‘Every student who does not continue in higher education means a loss of potential, a bad experience for that student and poor value for the taxpayer, as the investment in tuition fees is likely to have a low return. ‘This research suggests a link between an institution’s students’ satisfaction and its drop-out rates. Institutions which priorities student success are likely to see lower rates of non-continuation.’ He added: ‘Government should encourage higher education institutions to focus on improving student success.’

A London Metropolitan University spokeswoman yesterday insisted students are supported through a raft of measures. She said: ‘We select purely on academic grounds and we believe very strongly in providing opportunity, so we monitor student continuation very carefully at London Met. ‘We have seen rises in our numbers of students progressing successfully from year to year and we have put in place additional support in the form of our PASS scheme, Personal Academic Tutors, and a range of learning support add-ons to give the students we admit, from a wide range of backgrounds, every chance of success.’

Source: Staying the course report / Mailonline

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