Financial pressures appear to be forcing more students out of higher education, according to the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals.
Reinforcing evidence earlier this year from a Higher Education Funding Council for England survey, a CVCP survey shows that drop-out rates are running ahead of the increase in student numbers.
Around 40,000 students left their courses early in 1992/93, about 5 per cent of the total student population. Of these 15,000 left for academic reasons, up about 15 per cent on previous years, in line with the overall increase in numbers.
The 25,000 dropping out for other reasons are 30 per cent up on 1991/92, or twice the rate of the overall increase in numbers. The CVCP says: "Although it is not possible to calculate precisely the importance of financial hardship in a decision to leave, anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that financial difficulties are responsible for much of this increase in students leaving courses."
Both main lecturers' unions condemned the situation. David Triesman, Association of University Teachers' leader said: "Such wastage is economic madness and a tragedy in human terms."