More first-years are staying on

June 5, 2008

THE BEST AND WORST FOR RETENTION


Institutions with lowest proportion of dropouts (non-continuation after first year). Full-time first-degree entrants, 2005-06
  %Benchmark
1Royal Academy of Music0.06.1
2Royal Northern College of Music0.98.2
3St George’s Hospital Medical School1.14.7
4University of Cambridge1.24.5
5University of Oxford1.22.7
6Glasgow School of Art1.96.4
7University of St Andrews2.03.7
8Stranmillis University College2.27.0
9Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts2.59.5
10School of Pharmacy2.55.5
Institutions with highest proportion of dropouts (non-continuation after first year). Full-time first-degree entrants, 2005-06
  %Benchmark
1Bell College*24.412.9
2UHI Millennium Institute24.016.5
3University of Bolton21.713.8
4Napier University17.912.1
5University of Glamorgan17.512.9
6University of Paisley17.111.7
7Writtle College16.713.2
8North-East Wales Institute of Higher Education15.612.8
9University of Sunderland15.611.2
10University of Ulster15.210.0
* Bell College is now part of the University of the West of Scotland


There has been a modest increase in the proportion of students staying on in higher education after their first year, according to official figures.

Annual performance indicators published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that, for students starting full-time first degrees in the UK in 2005-06, the proportion who had dropped out one year later was 8.6 per cent, down from 8.8 per cent the previous year.

A second indicator, the total proportion of full-time first degree students predicted to leave higher education without a qualification, fell by one percentage point to 14.1 per cent in the UK. However, it grew by one percentage point in England, to 13.9 per cent.

Bill Rammell, Minister for Higher Education, said: "Although there has been a slight increase in the proportion of full-time first-degree starters expected neither to get an award nor transfer (in England), we still have one of the highest levels of student retention ... internationally."

A report published by the Public Accounts Committee this year said student retention had stalled, but Mr Rammell said Hesa figures proved the report was "wide of the mark."

Bell College, which merged with the University of Paisley last summer to become the University of the West of Scotland, had the highest rate of young full-time students dropping out before second year, at 24.4 per cent, closely followed by the UHI Millennium Institute at 24 per cent and the University of Bolton at 21.7 per cent.

The University of the West of Scotland said that since the merger retention had been a priority, and positive results were anticipated soon.

Peter Marsh, Bolton's deputy vice-chancellor, said full-time students made up only 25 per cent of its intake, and Bolton was at or around its retention benchmark for foundation degrees and higher national diplomas and certificates.

Institutions with the best retention scores were the Royal Academy of Music (0 per cent dropouts), the Royal Northern College of Music (0.9 per cent) and St George's Hospital Medical School (1.1 per cent).

Three universities in the top ten for retention - Cambridge, Oxford and St Andrews - are in the bottom ten for diversity. In contrast, three in the bottom for retention - Ulster and Sunderland, and Bell College - are among the most diverse.

rebecca.attwood@tsleducation.com.

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