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Student 'drop-out' rates rise at region's universities

PUBLISHED: 16:30 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:56 03 January 2020

Student 'drop-out' rates have risen at the university, which has its main campus in Ipswich Picture: University of Suffolk

Student 'drop-out' rates have risen at the university, which has its main campus in Ipswich Picture: University of Suffolk

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Three East Anglian universities have seen an increase in students dropping out - with the University of Suffolk recording the biggest rise in the region.

The University of Essex saw its student drop-out rate increase by a smaller percentage Picture: GOOGLE MAPSThe University of Essex saw its student drop-out rate increase by a smaller percentage Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

New figures from PA reveal two-thirds of the nation's universities and colleges logged an increase in the proportion of so-called 'student drop-outs' over a five-year period.

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According to PA's analysis, seven universities saw the proportion of students dropping out increase by more than 5% from 2011/12 to 2016/17 (the last year for which data is available).

Another 19 - including the University of Suffolk which was up 4.5% - recorded a rise of more than 3%. The University of East Anglia had a rise of 2.5%, while Essex recorded a smaller increase of 0.3%.

University of Suffolk bosses said its most recent data reflects the opposite - with the proportion of student withdrawals falling.

"It is difficult for the university to respond to the report, partly because we did not exist as an independent university for most of the period covered by this data," a spokesman for the University of Suffolk said.

"However, we can say that our most recent data suggests that the proportion of student withdrawals from the university is falling."

The institution, which has its main campus in Ipswich, was established in 2007 but was only awarded university status in 2016.

National picture 'concerning', says universities minister

The figures come at a time when universities are under greater scrutiny and pressure to be more transparent about areas such as drop-out rates and graduate outcomes.

Universities minister Chris Skidmore said it is "essential" drop-out rates are reduced.

He added: "I want to see each university and indeed courses held individually accountable for how many students are successfully obtaining a degree, so that we can be transparent and open about where there are real problems.

"Many universities are doing excellent work to support students but it's essential that dropout rates are reduced.

"We cannot afford to see this level of wasted talent."

Non-continuation 'still an issue'

A spokesman for vice-chancellors' group Universities UK added: "Universities are committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring students from all backgrounds can succeed and progress.

"This includes supporting students to achieve the best outcomes in not only getting into university, but flourishing while they are there.

"Many have specific plans in place to deliver this - for example in England access and participation plans are usually a required commitment for institutions.

"However, it is clear that non-continuation is still an issue and institutions must continue to work to support students to progress and succeed at university."

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