The number of full-time first-year undergraduates dropping out from the University of Warwick has increased by 75% over a five year period, The Boar can reveal.
This includes a reversed trend in which more male students are dropping out than female students, at a total of 52 this year. Most often, students chose to leave the University for “personal reasons”, amounting to 291 withdrawals last year.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request on data from 2013 to 2018 has found that the number of full-time undergraduates in their first year dropping out increased yearly from 140 in the 2013/14 academic year to 246 in 2017/18.
Meanwhile, the number of full-time undergraduates in their second, third or fourth years discontinuing their studies reached the lowest point last academic year at 48 students in total, which is 49 less than the peak in the 2015/16 academic year.
The data includes non-continuation rates of full-time and part-time students in undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research courses.
While there were 274 female students dropping out in 2013/14 which is 10 more than male students in that year, the trend has since reversed. In the 2017/18 academic year, 350 male students quit their studies, which is 52 more than the number of female students who have dropped out.
The number of full-time undergraduates in their first year dropping out increased yearly from 140 in the 2013/14 academic year to 246 in 2017/18
In 2018, it was found that male university applicants in the UK reached the lowest point since 2015, while institutions such as Aston and Essex universities have sought to recruit more white male students after they were classed as a “minority group”.
The number of black or black British students and Asian or Asian British students dropping out also reached its highest in the 2017/18 academic year, at 53 and 74 respectively. 411 white students also dropped out, the second highest out of five years.
Furthermore, the number of home students discontinuing their studies saw an increase of 19% in five years from 406 to 485, reaching its peak, while the figures for overseas students fluctuated between 92 and 119.
Department-wise, Warwick Business School (WBS) had the highest number of students dropping out over the last five years, increasing by 30 students from 2013/14 to 98 last academic year.
Following WBS is the Centre for Lifelong Learning and then Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG). The latter saw an increasing amount of students dropping out since 2013, increasing by 92% to 46 students quitting in 2017/2018.
Overall, Social Sciences was the faculty with the highest number of dropouts. 300 students discontinued their studies last year, the second highest out of five years.
The data comes amidst a demographic dip in the University’s intake this year, despite the University’s statement that “even more students have chosen to come to Warwick than in previous years” last year. Student numbers this year have also been affected by clearing, in which 70% of courses at Warwick were offered, yet the increase in dropouts remains.
Department-wise, Warwick Business School (WBS) had the highest number of students dropping out over the last five years
When asked about the rising drop-out rates for certain student communities, Warwick Students’ Union (SU) President Liam Jackson said: “I would hope the University are looking at this data and as a result are finding ways to stop these increases in drop-outs to ensure that any exclusionary practices at the University is stopped.”
In terms of why students dropped out of Warwick, 291 did so because of personal reasons, followed by health issues and choosing to restart.
Mr Jackson explained that there are “a multitude of reasons as to why students drop out”. He continued: “For some, it may be due to the ever-increasing pressure of University life, having such a negative impact on students’ wellbeing that they feel they need to leave.
“This is of course unacceptable and these students need greater support.”
“I would urge any students to speak to their personal tutor, wellbeing support, or the SU Advice Centre before making such a big decision,” he advised.
“There are other options available to you such as temporarily withdrawing, which is a common occurrence at the University, and people are here to support you through it.”
A rising number of students have also opted to transfer to another institution, which saw an increase of 147% over the past five years from 19 to 47 students.
Commenting on this figure, Mr Jackson said: “I also hope the University is digging in to the reasons why students are leaving Warwick to go to another institution.”
The reason I left Warwick was to deal with some unresolved issues surrounding bereavement. I didn’t feel the counselling services provided by the university were adequate to help me through the ordeal
– Anonymous former Warwick student
Speaking to The Boar, a former Warwick student explained his decision to leave during first year, having since restarted at another institution.
“The reason I left Warwick was to deal with some unresolved issues surrounding bereavement. I didn’t feel the counselling services provided by the university were adequate to help me through the ordeal,” he said.
“Despite missing my friends, I have not regretted the decision and feel all the better for it.”
A second-year student who will be resitting his exams was offered the option to temporarily withdraw due to mental health reasons.
Regarding the experience, he shared: “I have found the Politics department to be very helpful in addressing a breakdown in my mental health.
“After being put in personal contact with the Departmental Director of Student Wellbeing through my personal tutor, I was provided with multiple options of how I could progress with my studies.
“In the end, I was given assurances that if I applied for mitigating circumstances I would be able to sit my exams in September instead. I always felt that my wellbeing and my ability to achieve my best were prioritised.”
These statistics come as Warwick dropped out of the top 10 in the Complete University Guide overall rankings for 2020, for the first time since the league table’s history.
I would urge any students to speak to their personal tutor, wellbeing support, or the SU Advice Centre before making such a big decision
– Liam Jackson
For student satisfaction, the University fell 38 places to 63rd place, having previously been ranked at 25th for 2019.
On Friday 7 June, The Guardian ranked Warwick at ninth place for their 2020 university league table, a fall of one place from the year before.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds addressed non-continuation rates across UK universities in March this year, following data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
He called on universities to “focus on successful participation as well as admissions, particularly for students from disadvantaged and under-represented groups who are more likely to drop out”.
Acknowledging that some students drop out due to factors beyond the university’s control, Mr Hinds further announced that a new taskforce was being introduced to support students entering into higher education, and assist them in facing a variety of challenges.
“No student starts university thinking they are going to drop-out and whilst in individual circumstances that may be the right thing, it is important that all students feel supported to do their best – both academically and in a pastoral sense,” he said.
The University of Warwick has been contacted for comment.