Dropouts blamed on poor teaching

Outrage as minister claims retention rate is linked to pedagogic standards. Rebecca Attwood reports

June 11, 2009

John Denham provoked the ire of academics in his last week as Universities Secretary by suggesting that higher dropout rates at some universities could be the result of poor teaching.

As official statistics on student retention and access were published, Mr Denham wrote to the Higher Education Funding Council for England to voice his concerns.

"No doubt there will be a number of factors to explain why certain institutions have particularly low retention rates. However, it seems likely that the quality of teaching and the student experience will be important components," the letter says.

The University and College Union said it was "outraged and astonished" by his comments, while Les Ebdon, chair of the Million+ think-tank, said there was no evidence for the claim.

The letter adds that the Quality Assurance Agency may consider retention rates in future audits.

Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that among students starting full-time first degrees in the UK in 2006-07, the proportion who had dropped out a year later was 9 per cent, up from 8.6 per cent in 2005-06. The proportion of young full-time undergraduate entrants from state schools in 2007-08 rose from 88.3 to 88.5 per cent, but those from lower socio-economic groups fell from 30.3 to 30.1 per cent.

rebecca.attwood@tsleducation.com


More on this story at our website http://tinyurl.com/qh48mv.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns