"With university drop-out rates falling to a record low, our quality drive is working"

From: The Education Hub
Published: Tue Apr 05 2022

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan has written about the government's quality drive for universities.

When I became the first in my family to go to university back in the early 2000s, I was determined to complete my course. Like many others at the time, it felt to me like someone dropping out represented a missed opportunity. I never considered how much influence universities themselves have over a student's decision to drop out.

No student who takes the major step of going to university drops out lightly, and this is why drop out rates are such an effective health check on our university system. They measure whether universities are taking their admission duties seriously, admitting those with the genuine ability to complete a course; how well they are supporting those students, both academically and pastorally, once on a course; and the extent to which they are providing a rigorous and relevant curriculum that a student feels is worthwhile completing.

Each drop out represents a real person - a sibling, a child, a parent - who has potentially had their dream of a more successful future dashed by an obstacle in the system that they could not overcome.

That is why I am so passionate about improving quality, access and transparency for students. With this trio working properly, drop out rates should fall. If we fail, then we will see more students in courses that lead to dead-ends, frustration, and dropping out.

Last month, we put our finger to the pulse of our university system and took that health check, and the results were astonishing.

Drop-out rates for young students starting university in 2019/20 fell to the lowest level ever recorded.

The figure for students projected to leave university without a degree has fallen below ten per cent - its lowest ever level in recorded history.

Our quality drive is working.

It means more people are finishing the degrees they want to finish, and are far more likely to go onto sustained, graduate employment. It means fewer people are spending years of study and ending up with nothing to show for their investment, and more people are getting the quality of learning they were promised.

It is this very outcome we strived for when we announced that universities will have to hit hard targets to ensure the poorest students get into highly skilled jobs after they graduate.

Set against a global pandemic, where students have continued to achieve great things, these figures are a credit to them and their resilience. It is also a credit to our fantastic universities, who have put in hard work, especially through a challenging pandemic, to reach this milestone.

We continue to invest in mental health and support the most disadvantaged to make sure that we are wringing out every drop of talent that is currently hidden across the country.

We live in a world in which developing our own world-class home grown talent is more essential than ever.

If we can maintain our position as one of the best places in the world to study and become a highly skilled professional, there is no limit to what we can achieve as a country.

This week's health check showed that we are on the right track and, what's more, our ambitious reforms are working.

So let's turbocharge the things that are making our university system so effective, and let's usher in a new era of excellence in British education.

Company: The Education Hub

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