‘Wasted talent’ - University dropout rates revealed

UEA has seen a rise in the number of students dropping out. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

UEA has seen a rise in the number of students dropping out. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

Norfolk's largest university has seen an increase in students dropping out over the last five years.

New figures reveal two-thirds of universities have seen an increase in the proportion of students leaving their courses early in the last five years.

In some cases, non-continuation rates have risen by more than five percentage points.

The University of East Anglia's dropout rate has increased by 2.5 percentage points in the five year period from 2011/12 to 2016/17.

Figures from the university show 210 students dropped out in 2016/17 compared to 125 in 2012/13.

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A UEA spokesman said £250,000 has been invested to support student mental health and had introduced an inclusive education policy aimed at ensuring students had a positive experience during their time at the university.

A spokesman said: "Students have a wide variety of reasons for choosing to discontinue their courses with us, from personal issues to difficulties adjusting to academic study.

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"We aim to minimise these drop outs as much as possible through measures in our Access and Participation Plan, which outlines our commitment to supporting our students financially, academically, pastorally and socially, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds."

Anglia Ruskin University dropout rate also increased by 1.5 percentage points but Norwich University of the Arts saw a 0.3 decrease for the same period.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore has called for universities and courses to be "held individually accountable for how many students are successfully obtaining a degree.

In a tweet referring to the analysis, Mr Skidmore said that getting more students to university "means little without successful participation and progress".

He said: "Many universities are doing excellent work to support students but it's essential that dropout rates are reduced.

"We cannot afford to see this level of wasted talent."

Press Association's analysis reveals that 100 UK institutions saw an increase in the proportion of students dropping out in the five-year period from 2011/12 (the year before tuition fees in England were trebled to £9,000 - to 2016/17 (the last year for which data is available).

Some 46 institutions saw non-continuation rates fall during this period, while at four universities and colleges the proportion remained static.

The figures come at a time when universities are under greater scrutiny and pressure to be more transparent about areas such as dropout rates and graduate outcomes.

A spokesman for vice-chancellors' group Universities UK said: "Universities are committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring students from all backgrounds can succeed and progress.

"However, it is clear that non-continuation is still an issue and institutions must continue to work to support students to progress and succeed at university."

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