University of Suffolk ranks as worst in UK for dropout rates

Ipswich's University of Suffolk has commenced its 2020 academic year Picture: UNIVERSITY OF SUFFOLK

Ipswich's University of Suffolk has commenced its 2020 academic year Picture: UNIVERSITY OF SUFFOLK - Credit: Archant

The University of Suffolk has the highest student dropout rate among young students of all public universities in the UK, figures have revealed.

According to the most recent data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, which covers the 2018-19 academic year, more than a fifth of first year students under the age of 21 did not continue their studies at the local university into their second year.

The non-continuation rate of 23.8% among those under 21 sees them rank third highest of all providers nationwide, with only Arden University and the Bloomsbury Institute ranking higher with rates of 38.2% and 31.8% respectively.

Both of those institutions, however, are for-profit organisations, unlike the University of Suffolk – making it the highest ranked public university for dropouts in that age bracket. Figures for all three institutions are lower however when taking students of all ages into account.

In all, 185 of the 780 entrants in 2018-19 under the age of 21 dropped out before the end of the year, bucking national trends that saw the figure nationally drop by 0.1% to 6.7% that year.

The Department for Education (DfE) has called the high dropout rates at institutions – such as the University of Suffolk – “unacceptable”.

The university's deputy vice chancellor, Mohammad Dastbaz, said the high rate was due to dropouts within the university's partner institutes, which if omitted, would see a rate of 18% – closer to the sector benchmark of 17.6%.

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Mr Dastbaz said: "The University of Suffolk continues to develop processes to help students to complete their academic aspirations.

"We see a large proportion of our students from state schools or low participation neighbourhoods, compared to the sector, which unfortunately can lead to higher dropout rates.

"However, a significant portion of dropouts are within our partner institutes, and we are working hard with our partners to tackle these issues."

A university spokeswoman added the institution has continued to progress over the three years.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “It is unacceptable that at some universities more than 20% of students drop out before their second year.

“One of the Education Secretary’s key priorities for the Office for Students is to ensure students can succeed on high-quality courses which lead to good graduate employment, taking robust regulatory action where needed.”