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First Year Drop Outs are on the Rise

University is not for everyone. Anyone who ever attended will be able to look back on their graduation day and wonder what happened to at least 2-3 of their classmates from year one. It’s natural; some people realise the course, the university or university life is not for them. But a recent report has shown that student dropouts are worryingly high on some courses.


Drop Outs Up to 2/3 on Some Courses

The report showed that for some courses, the dropout rate was as high as 67% (two thirds) at the end of the first year. Two universities, in particular, were singled out for high dropout rates on their courses – Middlesex and Wrexham. The course names were Human Resources Management (Middlesex), and Marketing and Consumer Psychology (Wrexham). Similarly, London Metropolitan University some 59% of students dropped out of a Film, Media and Music degree before completing year one.

While these are extreme examples, the data showed that in many cases, one-third of students drop out of courses and the majority of these before the end of the first year. It began calls for the government to look again into allowing universities to charge the maximum £9,250 per year for each course and assure that where applied, the tuition fee charge is justified. A few weeks ago, it was revealed that the government plans to “name and shame” courses with poor graduate employability and low earning potential.


Reasons Why Students Drop Out

It is rarely made clear why students drop out so the reasons could be complex. University Minister Jo Johnson emphasised that dropouts are much lower than they were ten years ago but improvements still need to be made. However, the UK still has the lowest graduates in graduate jobs rate in the OECD.

  • Dropout rates are highest amongst poorer students, adding weight to the argument of the financial burden
  • However, while money may be the major factor, all but the richest students experience financial difficulties so it cannot be the only contributing factor. It certainly cannot explain the high rates of dropouts in some courses such as Broadcast and ICT (Sunderland: 33%), Entrepreneurship (Wrexham: 50%) and Computer Games Development (University of East London: 58%) some of these offer access to well-paid and secure jobs
  • What the data does not account for is the number of students who simply decided to drop out because the course was not for them and are opting to apply to another university or another course for the following academic year
  • Surprisingly, dropouts are also high for students who choose to live at home with parents rather than live in halls. Cost is usually the motivating factor, but such students often do not feel connected to university life in the same way