Dropouts shun 'useless' support before quitting

November 20, 2008

Exit interviews with students who left the University of Worcester in their first term found that a majority of them did not consult anyone at the institution before quitting. And, of those students who sought advice from an academic, a third of them said it was "useless".

Worcester's secretary and registrar John Ryan said that the exit interviews had revealed that more than 80 per cent of male students who dropped out had not discussed their difficulties with anyone at the university, compared with about 50 per cent of female students who dropped out.

In addition, 60 per cent of male students leaving in their first term said they had not discussed their decision with anyone at all, either inside or outside the university.

The wrong choice of course or institution was cited as a key factor in students' premature departures.

Mr Ryan, speaking at a conference held by the Association of University Administrators in London last week, said the findings underlined the importance both of pre-entry support and support from personal tutors and others after admission.

The interviews, held last year, found that 33 per cent of early drop-outs who had gone to an academic for support said the undertaking had been "useless".

Mr Ryan said he had been "flabbergasted" by how few tutors had been able to give appropriate financial advice to students, and said that a resistance among some staff to participating in student inductions - which he advocated as a way to improve retention rates - had infuriated him.

"The angriest I've been in the last two or three years is when a complaint came in from the University and College Union that the emphasis on subject-based induction meant that our academic staff were going to have to work an extra week," Mr Ryan said.

john.gill@tsleducation.com.

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