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Two-Thirds of Universities and Colleges Have Seen Rise in Student Drop-Out Rates
January 9, 2020
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Two-thirds of UK universities and colleges have seen a rise in the proportion of students dropping out in recent years.

Data analysed by the Press Association found that in the period from 2011-12 to 2016-17, 100 higher education institutions (67 per cent) saw an increase in the proportion of students dropping out.

Forty-six institutions (31 per cent) saw a fall in dropout rates, while the figure was unchanged at four universities and colleges.

The largest proportional increase was seen at the University of Abertay, Dundee, which had an 8.6 percentage point rise from 3.5 per cent in 2011-12, to 12.1 per cent in 2016-17.

‘Challenging barriers’

A spokesman for the university said it recognised “there is a need to improve student retention”.

In England, Bedfordshire University had the biggest increase, at 6.9 percentage points, rising from 8.3 per cent in 2011-12 to 15.2 per cent in 2016-17.

A spokeswoman said: “As a widening participation university our students can face challenging barriers to success.

She said many Bedfordshire students are “balancing the responsibilities of family and work with studying for a degree”, and “unable to turn to the bank of ‘mum and dad’”.

‘Up their game’

The analysis was based on data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency for 150 universities and colleges, and covers UK, full-time undergraduate students who were no longer in higher education the year after they started their course.

It comes at a time when student welfare is in the spotlight, with universities facing increased scrutiny over the support they give students and the value for money of their degrees.

In September the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, wrote to universities demanding they “up their game” by cutting drop out rates.

Image result for Chris Skidmore, the universities minister

Responding to the latest figures, Chris Skidmore, the universities minister, said: “I want to see each university and indeed courses held individually accountable for how many students are successfully obtaining a degree, so that we can be transparent and open about where there are real problems.”

‘Flourishing’ students

“Many universities are doing excellent work to support students, but it’s essential that dropout rates are reduced. We cannot afford to see this level of wasted talent,” he added.

A spokesman for Universities UK said: “Universities are committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring students from all backgrounds can succeed and progress.”

“This includes supporting students to achieve the best outcomes in not only getting into university, but flourishing while they are there.”

In October i reported that some universities are keeping electronic tabs on their students’ movements and using algorithms to identify those students most at risk of quitting.

Students With Unconditional Offers More Likely to Drop Out
November 5, 2019
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The analysis, published by the Office for Students (OfS), shows that the dropout rate was 10 per cent higher for students who accepted unconditional offers than would have been expected if they had accepted conditional offers.

Across the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years, this equated to almost two hundred students dropping out who would otherwise have been expected to continue.

This increase explicitly discounts other factors about those students that are associated with dropout rates, including what subject they study and where, and demographic characteristics.

If this pattern persists while rates of unconditional offer making continue to rise, the analysis shows that over 200 students per year could drop out who would otherwise have been expected to continue.

Nicola Dandridge,
chief executive of the OfS

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said:

We already know that students who receive an unconditional offer are more likely to miss their predicted grades at school. It is a cause of real concern that they are also more likely to drop out of university once they get there.

Dropout rates are overall low in England, so this is a small effect. But we are not talking about one or two students. This is a couple of hundred students per year who have made a significant investment of time and money in a degree from which they are unlikely to benefit.

We have always been clear that some unconditional offers are necessary and in a student’s interests. But many of them are not. Although it is up to universities to decide who to admit and how, they must take responsibility for the impact of those decisions, and provide the right support for all students to be successful – especially if the offer they receive makes them less likely to do well at school.

As our regulatory framework sets out, admissions systems must be reliable, fair and inclusive. What we are seeing here are admissions systems that are not fair, and are not working in students’ best interests.’

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said:

Universities scrabbling to attract students with unconditional offers are too often focused on the bottom line rather than student interests. These latest figures show that many students are ill-served by the current admissions system, and that there is a real need for urgent reform.

A move to post-qualification admissions, where students receive offers after they their results, would be much fairer to students. It would eradicate the problems associated with unconditional offers, end the gamble of predicted grades and bring the whole of the UK into line with the rest of the world when it comes to university admissions.

The population included in this analysis is 18 year olds in England at universities, colleges and other higher education providers on the OfS Register. 

The non-continuation rate shows the proportion of students who don’t continue from their first to second year, either at the same university or by transferring to another. Our analysis suggests that this rate is 0.65 percentage points higher – or 10 per cent proportionally higher – for students who accept an unconditional offer. In calculating this increase, we have compared students who received conditional and unconditional offers based on their predicted grades and other factors. This means that the impact of receiving an unconditional offer on the grades students actually attain is likely to explain much of the effect on continuation rates.

Only Half of 16-18 Year-Olds Plan on Going to University
October 21, 2019
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New research from jobs board, Monster.co.uk shows that today’s 16-18 year-olds no longer see a university degree as the only route to a good career. Just 53% say they are considering going to university, whilst 22% plan on completing an apprenticeship.

This is a significant drop since 2013 when 86% of young people said that a university education was important.[1]

With the average student graduating with over £50,000 of debt, 42% of school leavers are put off from going to university because of money.[2] And over a third (35%) believe that doing a degree doesn’t guarantee you a great job.

Monster.co.uk’s research shows that teenagers and their parents are broadly in agreement. When asked, 48% of parents and 60% of school leavers believe that getting a degree will get you a better job than completing an apprenticeship. Whilst 41% of parents think an apprenticeship is the best route for their child. 

Across the UK, parents and teenagers in the North East have the most positive outlook towards apprenticeships. 37% of teens in the region are considering an apprenticeship, compared to UK average of 22%. For parents in the North East, 69% believed apprenticeships stand you in better stead to get a good job than gaining a degree. With the North East currently home to the country’s highest unemployment rate, apprenticeships offer an immediate route into work, rather than going to university and graduating with huge debt and no job guarantee.[3]

Derek Jenkins, General Manager UK & Ireland, Monster.co.ukmonster.ie  comments: “With the cost of university tuition young people are moving away from the idea that degrees are essential to getting a good job. While it’s great to see more options available, making this huge decision at a young age is putting school leavers under a lot of pressure. At 16, 17 or 18 who honestly knows what they want to do for the rest of their lives? Instead of rushing into something, consider taking a year out to do internships and gain experience in different industries, or go travelling before making that decision.

“Whatever route you do decide to go down, if it doesn’t work out, don’t panic. You won’t be the first person to drop out of university or switch careers. Often it’s only through trial and error that you end up where you really want to be”

For anyone concerned that they won’t be able to get a good job without a degree, there are still a number of high paying and interesting jobs that you don’t need a degree for. Monster have created the top 10 highest paying jobs that you don’t need a degree for:

The top 10 highest paying jobs which you don’t need a degree for

1. Firefighter – Firefighters can earn up to £40,000 per year, depending on their rank. General managers can earn around the £30,000 mark, but if you become a station manager you may collect upwards of 40k. To start, you’ll need to pass written exams and aptitude tests. You must be fit too – a number of physical exams are included as part of the selection process.

2. Police constable – As a police officer, there’s a variety of different roles you can do, and it’s not all about being out on the streets fighting crime directly. Depending on where you are, salaries start at around £20,000 with the potential for growth of £45,000 and upwards for sergeants.  Once you get into inspector territory as your career progresses, you can expect up to £50,000.

3. Entrepreneur – You don’t technically need any qualifications to become a business owner – just a huge amount of drive, determination and a brilliant idea. With 1 in 10 Brits dreaming of owning their own businesses, what you earn will depend on how successful you are.[4]

4. Train and tram drivers – Newly-qualified drivers can earn up to £25,000, while experienced ones take home up to £50,000. There are some great benefits too, like free and discounted rail travel.

5. Training managers – Training managers conduct training programmes for employers in a variety of different sectors. The average national salary is £37,000, with the potential for more, depending on the company, industry experience and location.

6. Project manager – Project managers can work in a variety of different fields and are responsible for making sure the project is a success. Responsibilities include planning, budgeting, overseeing and documenting. The average salary is around £40,000 depending on the area and location.

7. Air traffic controllers – There’s no degree needed here, but you will need a calm nerve, 5 GCSEs and three years’ training to obtain your air traffic control licence from the National Air Traffic Services (NATS). Starting salaries are £17,000 to £21,000, while experienced controllers can reach up to £50,000 depending on where you work and shift allowances.

8. Sales managers – Sales managers are responsible for leading their sales team to success. You’ll need excellent communication and management skills, as well as proficient IT knowledge. Basic salaries start at £18,000 and can reach a potential of £100,000 – and more thanks to commission.

9. Construction manager – Being a construction manager involves having good leadership and communication skills in order to coordinate and supervise projects. Although some of the work can be done from the office, this role also means working on-site – in all weather. On the plus side, Construction Managers can earn upwards of £50,000.

10. Hazardous-waste manager – It might not sound appealing at first, but managers in this field can expect to receive upwards of £36,000 to get rid of hazardous by-products produced by organisations such as hospitals and factories. The level of skill required to do this role makes it incredibly lucrative.

  1. Censuswide survey of 500 UK 16-18 year-olds
  2. Monster survey of 1100 UK parents
  3. Monster Jobs Confidence Index Q3 report
Record Numbers of Young People in England have Applied to University
July 15, 2019
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On 11th July, UCAS published an analysis of all full-time UCAS Undergraduate applications made by 30 June 2019 – the final deadline for applying to up to five universities or colleges simultaneously.

The analysis is published within nine working days of the deadline.

Across the UK, the key findings are:

  • 39.5 per cent of all 18 year olds in England have submitted a UCAS application, up from 38.1 per cent at the same point last year, and a new record
  • in Northern Ireland, 46.9 per cent of 18 year olds have applied (down 0.7 percentage points)
  • in Scotland, the 18 year old application rate is 32.7 per cent (down 0.1 percentage point)
  • in Wales, the application rate is 32.9 per cent (up 0.2 percentage points), and a joint record with 2016 at this point in the application cycle

The number of young people from the UK applying has increased by 1 per cent, despite a 1.9 per cent fall in the overall 18 year old population of the UK. 275,520 young people have applied – up from 272,920 at this point in 2018.

The volume of EU applicants has risen 1 per cent, to 50,650. There is a record number of applicants from outside the EU – 81,340 students have applied to study in the UK, an increase of 8 per cent.

China continues its rapid growth, with applicant numbers up 30 per cent to 19,760 – this means that, for the first time, there are more applicants from China than Northern Ireland (18,520).

Overall, 638,030 people have applied in the current application cycle – a rise of over 1,000 on 2018. 

For the first time, UCAS has published reports by the various indexes of multiple deprivation across the UK.

  • In England, the number of young people applying from the most deprived areas has increased 6 per cent to 38,770, while applications from the least deprived areas have fallen.
  • In Northern Ireland, all areas have seen a fall in applications, of between 2 and 7 percent. 
  • In Scotland, young applicants from the most deprived areas have grown by 3 per cent, while all other areas have seen falls.
  • In Wales, applicants from the most deprived areas remained at 1,390, with a mixed picture across different areas.

All data is available to analyse in a new interactive dashboard on the UCAS website, allowing users to visualise and tailor the reporting to their own specification. 

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive, said:

‘The global appeal of UK higher education has never been clearer, with record, demographic beating application rates in England and Wales, and the steep rise in international applications, especially from China.

‘Today’s analysis shows how attractive undergraduate study continues to be for young people, although university isn’t the only route on offer. Our survey insight shows that around a quarter of students are interested in apprenticeships as an alternative option.

‘With Clearing now open, there’s plenty of choice for everyone at the end of the year. The post-qualification application route is available as a plan A for many, with over 17,500 using it to apply with results in hand last year.

‘There are opportunities for a new direction on over 30,000 courses at ucas.com, for anyone who’s already applied and now wants to change their mind, as we’ve streamlined the process for those reconsidering their original choices.’

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said:

“It is fantastic to see there are record rates of 18-year-olds in England, including an increase from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, applying to university, along with increasing numbers of applications from international students too.

“International students bring huge cultural and economic benefits to the UK. That is why our International Education Strategy sets out an ambition to increase international student numbers to 600,000 by 2030 and offers a number of measures to support the sector maintain further, sustainable growth from across the world.

“These figures show we are making good progress in our ambition to open up world-leading higher education to anyone who has the potential to benefit from it and I’m confident that we can go even further.”

Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive at Universities UK, said:

“It is very good news that 18 year-olds in England are more likely than ever before to apply to university and positive to see further progress in the amount of applications from young people living in deprived areas. Employer demand for graduates continues to rise – educating more people of all ages at university will grow the economy faster, by increasing productivity, competitiveness, and innovation. Growing the number of graduates will enhance social mobility.

“Our universities have a well-deserved global reputation for high quality teaching, learning and research, delivered by talented staff while students report rising levels of satisfaction with their courses. This is recognised by the increase in the number of international student applications – a record rise from outside the EU – which will bring significant economic benefits to the whole of the UK and enrich our university campuses.”

Employers have told CBI that they expect the greatest demand for skills over the next three to five years will be for people with higher level skills where there is already a much higher employment rate.

By 2030, it is estimated that there will be a UK talent deficit of between 600,000 to1.2 million workers for both our financial and business sector, and technology, media and telecommunications sector.

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK’s shared admissions service for higher education.

They manage almost three million applications, from around 700,000 people, each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

Scotland

In Scotland, there is a substantial section of higher education that is not included in UCAS’ figures. This is mostly full-time higher education provided in further education colleges, which represents around one third of young full-time undergraduate study in Scotland – this proportion varies by geography and background within Scotland.

Accordingly, figures on applications and application rates in Scotland reflect only those applying for full-time undergraduate study through UCAS.

In the 2015 cycle, there were also changes to the scope of the data recorded in the UCAS scheme for Scotland (including teacher training programmes in Scotland moving from the dedicated UCAS Teacher Training scheme into the UCAS Undergraduate scheme).

Graduates Earn £10,000 More Per Year than Those Who Don’t go to University
April 29, 2019
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Graduates earn £10,000 more per year than those who don’t go to university, proving that a degree continues to be a rewarding investment, brand new data has revealed (25 April)

The new figures published by the Department for Education show a continued rise, as working-age graduates aged 16-64 earned a median salary of £34,000 in 2018, a rise of £1,000 from the previous year, while their non-graduate peers who chose a different path earned a median salary of £24,000.

The figures show that a degree continues to be a worthwhile investment, however it also revealed that gaps in earnings still exist between different groups of the working age population – with male graduates earning £9,500 more than female graduates, and white graduates also earning £9,500 more than black graduates.

The Universities Minister has welcomed the overarching figures that highlight the value of a degree, but warned that there is further to go to tackle the disparities between different groups. Read more

New Online Apps Launched to Transform Careers Advice for Students
April 3, 2019
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The Universities Minister Chris Skidmore launched two apps which empower students to make better choices about where and what to study at university.

The next generation of students will be able to take greater control of their future career paths through new online apps being launched today, which empower them to make better choices about where and what to study (2 April).

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore unveiled two innovative apps, created by the winners of a Government competition receiving around £150,000 funding each, which set out simple and accessible information about graduate outcomes for prospective students.

The launch of the new tools follow the latest data published by the Department for Education on Thursday showing graduate earnings broken down by subject, which help students and parents to understand likely earnings and employment outcomes from a range of disciplines.

The new online apps, available to access from the developers’ websites today, will help to revolutionise student choice on their future careers, bringing together data on potential future earnings, with information on careers and employment options, and the quality of teaching in an easy to use format. One works as a personalised digital assistant to access information, while the other is a game where players can simulate career paths. Read more

Accelerated Degress Approved by MPs
January 24, 2019
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The following article was published by the Department of Employment on 23rd January 2019

Proposals to increase choice for students and save on tuition fees have been passed by the House of CommonUniversities Minister Chris Skidmore

Students starting university from September 2019 are set to have more choice than ever before about how they study after MPs approved legislation to
support the expansion of two-year and other accelerated degrees.

Legislation was passed in the Commons last night, following proposals from the Department for Education, which means students studying shorter university courses – such as three-year courses condensed into two – would save 20 per cent on tuition fees compared to traditional courses. For example, students who opt for a two-year degree will save at least £5,500 in total tuition costs compared to a standard three-year course. The regulations will now go to the House of Lords for approval.

 

In addition to a saving on tuition fees, students will also benefit from a year without paying any maintenance costs through an accelerated course, which would allow them to access the workforce quicker

Read more

Why Unconditional Offers Should be Banned
July 3, 2018
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Universities making unconditional offers prey on the worries of nervous sixth-form students writes Andrew Otty for TES.

My mum and dad did everything that could have been expected of them to instil in me the importance of education. They’d had no choice but to leave their own respective secondary modern and technical school at 15, due to the old tripartite system that gave grammar schools the state monopoly on 16-18 education.

I was their youngest child and they urged me to be the first in the family to get to university. But aside from the fame of Oxford and Cambridge, and a Blackadder quip about Hull, we didn’t really Unknow anything about the differences between universities. It should have been my sixth form’s responsibility to offer guidance, but mum and dad had moved far from the industrial docklands of their youth and I grew up in an affluent area defined by racehorses and the telecoms boom. My school must have assumed that everyone’s parents would be helping to filter their piles of prospectuses.

For our economically disadvantaged students in colleges and sixth forms, especially those whose parents did not attend higher education, we teachers are sometimes the only trusted source of advice and guidance. We can’t shy away from honest conversations about the relative merits of different institutions, or from warning our students off the least effective. Even if, embarrassingly, we might have come through them ourselves.

The relative value of a degree

The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently published data on the relative value of the same degrees offered by different universities, measured by earnings five years after graduating. If you’re taking medicine or dentistry, you’re given the happy choice of a university that will push you to well-above-average earnings or one that will propel you to light-years-above-average earnings.

Not so for all subjects. Fortunately, I inherited a northern sense of humour, so when I saw that an English degree from my own post-1992 alma mater should, in theory, be knocking me eight grand below average earnings, I laughed. Loudly. Read more

Teenagers ‘Let Down Over Degree Choices’
June 18, 2018
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Teenagers in England are having to make choices about university on the basis of too little information, a report by the Public Accounts Committee warns.

The PAC report says this is due “in large part to insufficient and inconsistent careers advice”.

It also says students have limited redress if they are unhappy with the quality of courses and that shorter and part-time courses have not emerged.

The government says a review of higher education will address such issues.

The report says it’s “deeply concerning” that most students in England don’t have the advice they need to make an informed decision.

“The substantial financial commitment required and wide variation in outcomes from higher education mean prospective students need high-quality advice and support to make decisions that are right for them,” it says. Read more