Student record

Northampton University sees student dropouts fall to record high despite Covid-19

Fewer first-year students dropped out of the University of Northampton last year than ever before despite the impact of Covid-19 on higher education.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan has welcomed the latest statistics which show the proportion of students dropping out of courses fell to a record low last year across the UK.

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show around 1,800 UoN students aged under 21 started a first full-time course in 2019-20 – and 120 quit before the second year.

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This means the non-continuation rate for young entrants was 6.6% – down from 10.5% the previous year, and the lowest since comparable records began in 2014-15.

The vast majority of students continued at the provider while 3.1% transferred to another university.

UK dropout rates fell to 5.3% – also a record high.

The HESA said that although the increase in the number of students pursuing courses cannot be directly linked to the pandemic, there is often a trend of increased university enrollment in “times of economic uncertainty”.

Figures from HESA show that the proportion of mature students who dropped out last year also fell to a national record high – 11.9%.

Of the 935 adult students at UoN, 65 discontinued their studies before the second year, a dropout rate of 6.9%.

Higher and Further Education Minister Michelle Donelan said it was equally important to get into university.

She added: “This is real progress, impacting real lives. I want to thank our universities for their hard work, especially through a difficult pandemic, to reach this milestone.”

Data shows that the likelihood of a student not continuing their education is highly dependent on where they study.

A third of students dropped out of Arden University London, while Cambridge University had a dropout rate of 0.6%, while Oxford saw 0.9% of students drop out of their courses.

The Student Union said it was pleased that despite the harsh conditions of the pandemic, overall dropout rates remained low.

A spokesperson added: “It is essential that students, especially those from disadvantaged and vulnerable backgrounds, have the support they need to complete their education.”