Dropout rates on the Government's flagship foundation degree courses have reached up to 55 per cent, according to a report by quality watchdogs, writes Phil Baty.
In an otherwise positive report, published this week, the Quality Assurance Agency says that "a high proportion of students on some foundation degree programmes withdraw prematurely and do not complete their studies".
Of 34 foundation degree courses reviewed, the QAA says that "between 45 and 90 per cent of students completed and achieved the award" - meaning up to 55 per cent did not in the worst case.
It says that, on average, the withdrawal rate for full-time students is about 21 per cent and about 29 per cent for part-time students.
A Department for Education and Skills spokesman said that the QAA itself had warned that the figures should be treated with some caution as there had been problems recording them.
The report, based on a survey of foundation degree providers that follows a thorough review of the fledgling courses in 2002-03, was otherwise generally positive.
It says: "There is much to celebrate. The survey shows that foundation degrees are successful in providing a new award, which links and integrates work-based learning and academic studies."
There was evidence the courses were "attracting students who had not previously considered entering higher education", were allowing students to progress to full degree courses and were meeting the needs of employers.