Exeposé News Online (20 August 2014)
You’re more likely to make it past your first year of university if you’re female, young and privately educated, research has found.
Analysis by the Higher Education Funding Council for England has shown university dropouts before second year have fallen to their lowest ever levels ever, at around 6.7%.
However, it has also emerged that men are the most likely dropouts, with 7.6 per cent not returning for second year. This compares to just 5.9 per cent of women.
In terms of ethnicity, the highest dropout rates were recorded among black students, at 9.4 per cent. Meanwhile, Chinese students were revealed as least likely to quit before second year, with just 5.2 per cent dropping out.
Where you come from also appears to factor in. The analysis found that students from areas with low participation rates – those with less history of young people entering higher education – were more likely to drop out.
Highest dropout rates were recorded in London (nine per cent) and the North West (7.7 per cent), while the lowest were found be to in the South West (5.3 per cent).
The National Union of Students has voiced concern at the findings, which also showed that students from state schools (6.5 per cent) were more likely to drop out than their private schooled peers (3.5 per cent).
It was also revealed that disabled students (7.8 per cent) are more likely to drop out than able-bodied students (6.2 per cent).
NUS has claimed the findings show “unless you meet the young, white, middle class, privately educated traditional mould you have less chance of succeeding at university.”
Megan Dunn, NUS vice-president for higher education, added: “We have a long way to go to close the gaps for disadvantaged students in education and this report just highlights why it is so important to create inclusive, supportive communities within institutions to make sure those from all backgrounds can flourish.”
Professor Les Ebdon, head of university access watchdog OFFA, acknowledged the “positive and welcome finding” that dropout rates have fallen overall.
Speaking of the revealed variations in dropout rates, he did however add: “Students from disadvantaged backgrounds and some other groups underrepresented in higher education are less likely to continue with their studies than their more advantaged peers.
“This finding shows how disadvantage can follow you down the years, meaning that some students might not get the chance to fulfil their potential.”