Non-continuation summary: UK Performance Indicators 2017/18
The purpose of the indicators is to provide an objective measure of how the UK higher education (HE) sector is performing.
This is the second of our releases this year and focuses on student retention.
For any individual who enrols at an HE provider, there are a range of outcomes that the student may achieve after a particular time.
In constructing the non-continuation tables supplied here, we define a student to have continued if they obtain a qualification, excluding credits (although this does not necessarily have to be the one they were originally aiming for) or remain active at the same HE provider (but they may be studying a different course to the one they were initially registered on).
Read more information on the non-continuation definition.
In table series T3, we highlight the proportion of full-time entrants who do not continue in higher education beyond their first year, with T3a showing the figures for first degree entrants, while T3d focuses on other undergraduate entrants.
Table D provides non-continuation rates over time by country of HE provider. For full-time first degree entrants, we see higher rates among mature students than young students.
Focusing on the time trend (Chart 6), non-continuation rates among young and mature, full-time first degree students have remained fairly consistent in the last few years.
With regards to other undergraduate entrants, the non-continuation rate for young, full-time students in the UK is generally slightly higher than for mature entrants. Although there have been fluctuations in the rate in both instances, the overarching pattern for both mature and young entrants has been one of decline since the start of the millennium.
Chart 7 considers non-continuation rates across HE providers. There is clearly greater spread in the reported figures for other undergraduate entrants when compared to those on a first degree.
Table T3e concentrates on non-continuation two years after entry for part-time first degree entrants. In Table E, we illustrate non-continuation rates for this group. Rates are slightly higher among those aged 30 and under than for those aged over 30. Chart 8 illustrates how the proportion varies within the sector.
Please note that from the 2014/15 publication, there was a change in the allocation of The Open University (OU) students by location of HE provider. Previously, all OU enrolments were counted within England, where the OU has its administrative centre. From the 2014/15 publication onwards, enrolments at one of the OU’s national centres in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will contribute to the totals of those countries. This impacts on the non-continuation statistics shown in table E below from 2012/13.
Table T4 discloses the percentage of students who return to HE after a year out. The data provides a split to show the proportions who return to their initial provider, transfer to another provider and those who do not return to study.
The projected learning outcomes for full-time students starting their programme of study is supplied in Table T5. They give the outcomes that would be expected from starters at HE providers should these progression patterns continue in subsequent years.
The sector averages for the UK and its constituent countries are obtained by taking a weighted average of all the relevant HE provider values. We see from Table F and Chart 9 that since 2012/13 the proportion of full-time first degree students expected to qualify with a degree from the HE provider at which they started in the UK is showing a slight decline.
Who classifies as a young entrant?
Young entrants are those aged under 21, while mature students are those aged 21 or over.
How are the continuation categories defined?
Where can I find information on any merger or changes to HE providers?
We publish information on HE provider mergers and changes. Note that any new providers will have their non-continuation data suppressed until they have been in the sector for at least two years allowing for their students to be tracked across academic years.
Are there any additional notes on the Performance Indicators to accompany this publication?
For more information relating to the UK Performance Indicators, please view the data intelligence notes.
UK Performance Indicators pages
- Widening participation
- Experimental statistics
- Employment of leavers
- Historic data
Support and contacts
- Guide to the UK Performance Indicators
- Definitions and benchmark factors
- Give us your feedback
- Pre-release access to official statistics
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