Peak numbers of students dropping out of university for financial reasons

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The number of poorer students dropping out of university before completing their course has reached its highest point in five years, according to a recent report by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).

The report, which found that this number had risen for the second year running, suggests that the gap between students from higher and lower-income backgrounds is increasing.

It found that between 2014 and 2015, nearly 9% of full-time undergraduates from lower-income backgrounds did not finish their course, compared to less than 5% of their less disadvantaged peers.

OFFA concluded that although “more disadvantaged young people are in higher education than ever before […] the gap between the non-continuation rates of the most advantaged and most disadvantaged students has widened in the past year.”

“Higher education can be a transformational experience that opens doors to rewarding careers and social mobility, but this is only the case if students achieve successful outcomes.”

This report comes as tuition fees for many universities – including Warwick – are expected to rise to £9,250 in the upcoming year, with interest rates rising to up to 6.1% for 2017/18 student loans.

The gap between the non-continuation rates of the most advantaged and most disadvantaged students has widened in the past year.
Office for Fair Access

Despite an SU-led boycott of the National Student Survey, which was used to assess which universities would qualify to raise their fee cap, Warwick was awarded silver status along with the University of York, Durham and UCL in the recent Teaching Excellence Framework ranking, while Coventry scored gold.

Recent reports have also suggested that since maintenance grants have been cut, poorer students are coming out of university with an average of £14,000 more debt than students from wealthier families. Nationwide, British students are said to graduate with more debt that any other English-speaking country, according to The Independent.

Minister for Universities Jo Johnson claimed that universities are “rising to the challenge,” but “there is still more work to do to ensure no student is missing out.”

In the last year, universities have been spending up to £752.2 million on schemes (such as Bright Stars at Warwick) to support students from less advantaged backgrounds and encourage people to attend higher education.

However, the University’s primary access agreement for the coming year, while pledging “to develop new routes for disadvantaged students to gain access to a Warwick education” places more focus on helping disadvantaged students gain access to university rather than ensuring they stay on the course.

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