Paisley calls for probe of quitters

April 4, 2003

Paisley University has called for a national investigation of students who quit Scottish institutions after summer holidays despite having passed exams that enable them to progress to the next year, writes Olga Wojtas.

Vice-principal Seamus McDaid made the plea at the inaugural conference of the Scottish Higher Education Retention Forum, set up by Paisley.

The university is conducting a long-term study of more than 2,000 entrants.

The research team found that about 5 per cent of students did not return despite passing the exams. This included those who passed resits, for which they paid fees.

Professor McDaid said anecdotal evidence showed this was not unique to Paisley and that better tracking was needed to find out why students left.

"We need to understand whether they have sufficient skills for what they want to do now and whether they are making positive choices," he said.

Muir Houston, one of the Paisley research team, said successful students who did not progress were the "hidden aspect" of student withdrawal.

He speculated that some might choose to go into paid work to avoid increasing debt, returning to their studies later in life.

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