Rise in number of students dropping out from university

By Mark Andrews | Education | Published:

The proportion of students dropping out at the University of Wolverhampton has increased by almost four per cent over five years – one of the biggest increases in the country.

The Ambika Paul Building at the University of Wolverhampton

Official figures show that two-thirds of universities and colleges have seen an increase in the drop out rates in the five years up until 2016/7.

Wolverhampton and Newman University in Birmingham saw the biggest increases in the West Midlands, both at 3.9 per cent.

The Wulfruna Building at University of Wolverhampton

Birmingham City University, formerly Birmingham Polytechnic, also saw a 3.5 per cent increase in the drop-out rate.

At the other end of the scale, Harper Adams University in Newport, Shropshire, saw its drop-our rate fall by 1.1 per cent, and Birmingham University also saw a fall.

The figures compare drop-out rates 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.

The University of Birmingham

They reveal that 100 institutions, or 67 per cent of the total, saw an increase in the proportion of students dropping out, compared to 46 – or 31 per cent of the total – which saw the drop-out rate fall.


The remaining four universities saw the rates remain unchanged.

Staffordshire University saw a two per cent increase in the drop-out rate, while University College Birmingham saw a one per cent increase.

Birmingham City University

The analysis used annual data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency for 150 universities and colleges, and covered UK full-time undergraduate students who were no longer in higher education the year after they started their course.


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.

Staffordshire University's Centre of Excellence in Healthcare Education based in Blackheath Lane, Stafford

"This includes supporting students to achieve the best outcomes in not only getting into university, but flourishing while they are there.

"Many have specific plans in place to deliver this – for example in England access and participation plans are usually a required commitment for institutions.

“However, it is clear that non-continuation is still an issue and institutions must continue to work to support students.”

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.


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