British universities warned to take action to reduce dropout levels

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 8, 2019
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British Education Secretary Damian Hinds issued a warning to British universities Thursday after a report highlighted the high level of dropout rates among students.

Hinds called on universities to tackle the high rates of students dropping out, after new figures were published on Thursday by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

New data shows the highest dropout rate among young first degree entrants at higher education institutions was in computer and science courses, at 9.8 percent.

It was followed in the top-5 drop out subjects business and administrative studies (7.4 percent) and engineering & technology, mass communications and documentation, and creative arts and design, each with a 7.2 percent dropout rate.

In comparison, medicine and dentistry and veterinary science students had the lowest dropout rate among young entrants of 1.5 percent.

Hinds said British universities must do more to cut damaging dropout rates or risk undermining the progress made in improving access to higher education.

He has challenged universities to focus on successful participation as well as admissions, particularly for students from disadvantaged and under-represented groups who are more likely to drop out.

Hinds told universities with the highest dropout rates that their figures create the impression that providers are only interested in "bums on seats", rather than offering all-round support for students throughout their studies to complete their degree.

The new data from HESA shows that disadvantaged students were more likely to drop out of university in their first year (8.8 percent of full-time first degree students under-21) compared to their more advantaged peers (6 percent).

Hinds said: "We have made huge progress in ensuring universities are open to all, with record rates of disadvantaged and underrepresented groups in higher education, but every step we make on access is undermined if a larger number students then drop out of their courses."

He announced a new taskforce to help universities support students with the challenges that starting university can involve, adding that universities also need to look at the statistics and take action to reduce drop-out rates.

The new taskforce will look at ways of helping students manage challenges in four key areas, which includes aspects of student life including managing finances, getting used to independent study, and finding your feet among a large new group of peers.

"If they don't, we have given the Office for Students power to take action," said Hinds. 

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