Drop-out rate at University of the West of England, Bristol reaches record high

More first-year students dropped out of courses at University of the West of England, Bristol last year than ever before, figures show.

File photo dated 16/07/08 of university graduates, as the quality of online teaching and "blended learning" at universities is set to be reviewed, over fears that students' poor experiences of online learning during the pandemic may have undermined the potential of mixing face-to-face lectures with online study.
File photo dated 16/07/08 of university graduates, as the quality of online teaching and "blended learning" at universities is set to be reviewed, over fears that students' poor experiences of online learning during the pandemic may have undermined the potential of mixing face-to-face lectures with online study.

More first-year students dropped out of courses at University of the West of England, Bristol last year than ever before, figures show.

It comes despite the proportion of students dropping out of degree courses falling to a record low last year across the UK.

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that around 4,760 students aged under 21 began a full-time first degree course at University of the West of England, Bristol in 2019-20 – and 295 quit before the second year.

That means the non-continuation rate for young entrants was 6.2% – up from 7.5% the year before, and the highest since comparable records began in 2014-15.

The vast majority of students (90%) continued at the provider last year, while 3.8% transferred to another university.

The dropout rate across the UK fell to 5.3% – also a record low.

The HESA said that while the increase in the proportion of students continuing with their courses after their first year cannot be directly linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is often a trend towards increased university enrolment in “periods of economic uncertainty”.

Minister for higher and further education Michelle Donelan said getting on at university is just as important in getting in, and providers must continue to focus on tackling drop-out rates.

She added: "This is real progress, impacting real lives – and I want to put on record my thanks to our universities for their hard work, especially through a challenging pandemic, in reaching this milestone."

The data shows that the likelihood of a student not continuing their studies depends heavily on where they study.

A third of students dropped out from London's Arden University, while none did at the University College of Osteopathy, also in London.

The University of Cambridge had a dropout rate of 0.6%, while the University of Oxford saw 0.9% of students discontinue their courses.

The Office for Students said it was pleased that despite the challenging conditions of the pandemic, overall dropout rates have remained low.

A spokesperson added: "However, the gaps between different universities and courses remain significant.

"It is vital that students, particularly those from disadvantaged and vulnerable backgrounds, have the support they need to complete their studies.”

The HESA figures show that the proportion of mature students dropping out last year also fell to a record low nationally – 11.9%.

Of the 1,580 mature students at University of the West of England, Bristol, 135 discontinued their studies before the second year – a non-continuation rate of 8.5%.

Universities UK said: “Universities are committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring students from all backgrounds can succeed and progress.

“This includes supporting students to achieve the best outcomes in not only getting into university, but flourishing while they are there. It is welcome to see this commitment being reflected in record continuation rates, including among the most disadvantaged students."