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Non-continuation rates (including projected outcomes) (tables T3, T4, T5, T6)

These tables look at non-continuation rates for UK domiciled students at an HE provider. They are presented in two ways. The first considers students who start in a particular year, and looks at whether they are still in higher education one year later (for full-time students) or two years later (for part-time students). The second method looks at projected outcomes over a longer period.

The non-continuation rates for students at an HE provider are of widespread interest, but need to be carefully defined and interpreted. The two methods are explained in more detail below

UK Performance Indicators 2014/15: Non-continuation rates

Release date: 23 March 2016

Our non-continuation Performance Indicators investigate student outcomes. 

Tables included:

  • Table T3a - Non-continuation following year of entry: UK domiciled full-time first degree entrants 2013/14
  • Table T3b - Non-continuation following year of entry: UK domiciled young full-time first degree entrants 2013/14
  • Table T3c - Non-continuation following year of entry: UK domiciled mature full-time first degree entrants 2013/14
  • Table T3d - Non-continuation following year of entry: UK domiciled full-time other undergraduate entrants 2013/14
  • Table T3e - Non-continuation two years following year of entry: UK domiciled part-time first degree entrants 2012/13
  • Table T4a - Resumption of study in 2014/15, after year out of HE in 2013/14: UK domiciled full-time first degree entrants 2012/13
  • Table T4b - Resumption of study in 2014/15, after year out of HE in 2013/14: UK domiciled full-time other undergraduate entrants 2012/13
  • Table T5 - Projected learning outcomes: UK domiciled full-time students starting first degree courses 2013/14
  • Table SN1 - Percentage of UK domiciled young entrants to full-time first degree courses in 2013/14 who are no longer in HE in 2014/15
  • Table SN2 - Percentage of UK domiciled mature entrants to full-time first degree courses in 2013/14 who are no longer in HE in 2015/16
  • Table SN3 - Percentage of all UK domiciled entrants to full-time other undergraduate courses in 2013/14 who are no longer in HE in 2014/15
  • Table SN4 - All HE providers transition matrix for sector 2013/14
  • Table SN5 - Percentage of UK domiciled starters on full-time first degree programmes by start year of programme and academic year
  • Table SN6 - Sector projected learning outcomes: UK domiciled full-time students starting first degree courses by academic year.
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In 2011/12, the method used to produce the low participation indicator changed from using POLAR2 to the more up to date POLAR3 method. Prior to 2006/07 the low participation indicator used the Super Profiles method. The three low participation methods are not comparable, but the POLAR3 method has been run back to 2009/10 and the POLAR2 method has been run for forward to allow some comparisons. For more details on the methods, please refer to the definitions page.

The main tables T3, T4 and T5 provide a breakdown by HE provider. The supplementary tables (SN1 - SN7) provide some background information and context figures for the sector used in the derivation of the benchmarks.

Note: The year references given in the downloadable file indicate the academic year from which the data is based while the naming convention for the downloadable file relates to the publication edition.

Non-continuation following year of entry (table series T3, Supplementary tabes SN1, SN2 and SN3)

This method is based on tracking students from the year they enter a HE provider to the following year (for full-time students, T3a-T3d) or the following two years (for part-time students, T3e) and provides information about where the students are in that year: continuing at the same HE provider (either on the same course or elsewhere in the HE provider), transfer to another HE provider, or absent from higher education completely.

Full details of the methods used can be found in the technical document.

Resumption of study after a year out of HE (table series T4)

Some students who leave higher education during or at the end of the first year will return after a year out. Table series T4 includes statistics about such returns for full-time students. These are not provided as indicators, but to give some extra information which may be used with the indicators in table series T3 to give a fuller picture. Table series T4 gives the percentage of students who were absent from HE the year after they entered who returned to higher education, either at the same HE provider or at another HE provider, the following year. The final column expresses the percentage of entrants who did not return to HE two years after they entered.

Projected outcomes (table T5)

The other method for producing non-completion rates projects what proportion of the full-time first degree starters are likely to be in each of the 'end states' after a period of fifteen years (that is, having gained a qualification, transferred to another HE provider, or been absent from HE for two consecutive years). The fifteen year period has been chosen as an over-estimate of the amount of time that the majority of full-time first degree students should have reached one of these end states.

The projection is based on the current pattern of students at the HE provider. Firstly, we define a 'transition population' which consists of students who were active on a full-time first degree course in a particular academic year plus students who were active on a full-time first degree course in the previous year, excluding those who have obtained a degree. For each student in the transition population, we look at their 'state' (mode of study, level of study, HE provider, year of programme and if applicable, qualification obtained) in the academic year in question and in the following academic year. Assuming that this pattern of students is typical for the HE provider, this is used to anticipate the state of the full-time first degree starters up to fifteen years on. The list of possible 'states' a student can be in are listed in the technical document. Due to the nature of this method, a very small number of students may not have reached one of the 'end states' after fifteen years and are shown in a 'not known' column of the table. High numbers in the not known column are often a result of HE providers which have made major changes, either to the format of their degree programmes or to the way they record that format.

In technical terms, projecting students is equivalent to multiplying a scalar matrix of starters by a matrix of students in the transition population a total of fourteen times to represent a period of fifteen years. Full details of the method used can be found in the technical document.

Module completion rates (table T6, issued pre-2011/12)

Following consultation with stakeholders, which revealed very low usage levels of the module completion data, it was agreed by the Performance Indicators Steering Group (PISG) that from 2011/12 onwards this information will no longer be produced as part of the Performance Indicators.

Progression rates of part-time students are not as straightforward to define as those of full-time students. Although we can tell when a part-time student has completed a course if they obtain a qualification, it is difficult to tell when such a student has not completed a course and does not intend to finish it. Table T6 looks at completion rates of part-time students by considering the number of modules which have been passed.

Up until 2006/07, when HE providers in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland returned their data to HESA, they could do so in one of two ways: ‘combined’ or ‘modular’. A modular method was mandatory for all Welsh HEPs and was used by about a third of other HEPs, for at least some of their students. From 2007/08, the new record structure requires returning data in a modular structure. A Student on module entity, linking to at least one Module with associated subject and cost centre information, must be returned for all students. HE providers may not use module terminology and may return their data using a single module. Full coverage of modular data is thus still only available within Wales and therefore table T6 has been restricted to Welsh HE providers (those HE providers funded by HEFCW).

Data in table T6 has been further restricted to part-time undergraduate students domiciled in the UK. It provides the number of students and the number of modules for which some information is available, the number of modules for which results are available and the pass rates for those modules with results. This final value is taken as the indicator. If results are available for only a small proportion of modules, the pass rate should be treated with caution.

Table T6 provides information about the pass rates of part-time students and provides a breakdown by HE providers in Wales.