New figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that for the second year in a row, dropout rates have increased for students who have only completed their first year of university.
Dropout rates for first year students increased from 5.7% in 2012/13, to 6% in 2013/14, and increased further in 2014/15 to 6.2%.
According to Les Ebdon, the director of fair access to higher education, students from disadvantaged backgrounds suffered the largest increase in dropout rates, with the percentage for the group rising from 8.2% in 2013/14 to 8.8% in 2014-15.
Concerns surrounding the reason for the increase revolve around the rise in tuition fees in England; reportedly resulting in students with a lower income struggling to fund their studies.
In response to those concerns, Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, commented: “Universities will remain focused on supporting students, on delivering continuous improvement in retention at the same time as widening access. We have always said it is important to widen access to get students of all backgrounds through the door, but just as important to support them when they are there.”
The National Union of Students (NUS) Scotland has also called for improvements for financial support for students, to prevent working hours from clashing with studies.
The study found that in 2014/15, Scottish universities had the highest dropout rates in the UK at 6.5%, in comparison to the UK average of 6.2%. The University of West Scotland possessed the highest dropout rate, with around 14% of its students failing to complete their studies.
The NUS president for Scotland stated: “It can’t be escaped that these figures remain below previous highs and Scotland still has the highest dropout figures in the UK.
“When any student feels they have no choice but to leave education, it not only represents a huge waste of that student’s talent, but it’s a great loss for our country as a whole.”