INSTITUTIONAL DIFFERENCES IN NON-CONTINUATION
27. The performance of institutions in ensuring
students make sufficient progress through their course is not
uniform across the higher education sector. HEFCE's performance
indicators for each higher education institution in the UK included
calculations for non-continuation rates. Two indicators were calculated:
the proportion of students who do not continue their study at
the end of the first year of higher education, and a projection
of the final outcomes of cohorts starting courses at an institution.
The proportion of first time first degree entrants who were not
in higher education following their year of entry ranged from
around 20 per cent at the institutions at one end of the scale
to less than 1 per cent at the other.
28. The Secretary of State noted in his letter of
29 November 2000 to HEFCE that there were "unacceptable variations
in the rate of drop-out which appear to be linked more to the
culture and workings of the institution than to the background
or nature of the students recruited".
HEFCE has asked its Action on Access team to identify factors
which account for this differential performance, with the intention
that this information should be disseminated and provide the basis
for HEFCE's work with institutions which do not do well.
Sir Howard Newby argued that there were no obvious correlations
between non-completion rate and factors such as "institution
size or whether they are old or new universities or anything of
He told the Sub-committee that non-completion was more likely
to be linked to factors which related to individual institutions
rather than sector-wide influences.
It seems extremely likely that student factors, sectorwide
influences and issues that relate to individual institutions all
play a part in the question of retention. Government, the sector
and the individual institutions, therefore, should each address
the factors over which they have control.
SUBJECT DIFFERENCES IN NON-CONTINUATION
29. Non-completion rates also vary significantly
by the subject of study. The Sub-committee was told that professional
and vocational courses have lower non-completion rates than other
HEFCE's performance indicators show non-completion rates for young
full-time students ranging from 2 per cent (medicine, dentistry
and veterinary science) to 11 per cent (engineering and technology).
33 Mr John Randall, Q. 121 and Baroness Blackstone,
Q. 464. Back
Press notice, 6 October 2000. Back
Undergraduate non-completion in higher education in England,
a technical description of these indicators, see HEFCE Performance
indicators in higher education in the UK, 2000, pp 6-8 and
Annex B. Back
full-time first degree entrants, 1997-98. For additional data
see HEFCE Performance indicators in higher education in the
UK, 2000, Table T3. Back
paragraph 6. Back
QQ. 48, 67. Back
Performance indicators in higher education in the UK, 2000,
Table B13. Back