£800m a year wasted on students who quit courses they should never have been signed up to

The Independent is reporting that more than £800m a year is being wasted on students who drop out of apprenticeships and A-level courses because their schools and colleges are more interested in getting “bums on seats” than on guiding them to the right subjects…

Around 12 per cent of the entire budget for post-16 education in England is being wasted on the 10 per cent of students who fail to complete their studies – a figure that rises to 25 per cent among apprentices.

The analysis, which was carried out for the Local Government Association (LGA) by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, found the cost to the public purse is £814m.

The report shows that 178,100 16- to 18-year-olds failed to complete post-16 qualifications they had embarked upon in 2012-13 – prompting an outcry from local government leaders, academics and teachers’ leaders.

Schools and colleges are funded according to the number of students they recruit, leading the LGA to say that too many institutions are adopting a policy of recruiting as many students as possible to sixth-form or college courses, instead of ensuring each individual can be steered towards a course suitable for them…

The dropout rate from AS-levels, the exams worth half an A-level which have been considered a stepping stone to the full courses, was 10 per cent. The A-level dropout rate was 5 per cent. There were 75,000 withdrawals from individual AS-levels and 22,000 from A-levels.

The cost of dropout and non-achievement was £316m from AS- and A-levels, £302m from further education and £196m from apprenticeships.

The authors say that in recent years the cost to the Exchequer may have been even more costly as AS-level and A-level dropout rates have improved – but warned that the situation could soon become worse…


What do you make of these concerns from the LGA? Are too many students being encouraged onto courses they are unsuitable for? Please let us know how you see it in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Secondary.


  1. irvingphil

    SchoolsImprove 95% completion for A-levels and 90% for AS levels, then? Maybe DfE should stop misselling apprenticeships to 25% of kids.

  2. irvingphil

    .SchoolsImprove DfE also omit that they fund 16 & 17 yr olds’ FE but last year they stopped funding 18 yr olds. One mistake and you’re out.

  3. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove that’s why we needs better #careers guidance! CareersDefender imagine what could be done with that figure!!!

  4. pe_enthusiast

    SchoolsImprove my last school required 17 on a course for it to run – 17 in a school that’s 750 inc 6th form!!! Huge pressure on staff

  5. apprenticesmk

    SchoolsImprove fundamental problem in the system too many providers chasing the £’s not interested in the candidate journey

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