According to Daily Mail, universities with high dropout rates were accused by the Education Secretary yesterday of only caring about ‘bums on seats’.
Damian Hinds spoke out after figures showed that up to a fifth of students at some institutions leave in their first year.
Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are particularly hard-hit, with data across all universities showing they are around 50 per cent more likely to drop out than their peers from wealthier homes.
Some universities are now dishing out unconditional offers – meaning students get a place regardless of A-level results – and many courses are taking students with very low grades.
Mr Hinds told the worst-offending universities that their figures create the impression they are only interested in ‘bums on seats’, rather than offering all-round support for students throughout their studies to complete their degree.
Mr Hinds urged universities to throw more effort into student retention or face intervention from the official regulator, the Office for Students, which can impose fines or even closures.
The figures for English universities, from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, are for the academic year 2016/17, the most recent available.
London Metropolitan University had the worst all-round dropout rate, with 18.6 per cent quitting in their first year. The University of Bolton was in second place, with 15.4 per cent.
Overall, across all universities, the dropout rate for disadvantaged students was 8.8 per cent, while for more advantaged students it was 6 per cent. Across all students, the average drop-out rate was 6.3 per cent.
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