Non-continuation: 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 release 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 (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.
This method is based on tracking students from the year they enter an 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), transferred to another HE provider, or absent from higher education completely.
Full-time undergraduate entrants (Table T3)
The indicators for full-time entrants in Table T3a-d show, for each HE provider:
- The percentage who continue at the same HE provider, transfer to another HE provider and are no longer in HE the year after entry.
- For first degree entrants the percentages who continue, transfer and are no longer in HE by low participation neighbourhood marker (for young entrants) and previous HE marker (for mature entrants).
Part-time first degree entrants (Table T3e)
The indicators for part-time entrants in Table T3e show, for each HE provider:
- The percentage who continue at the same HE provider (either on the same course or elsewhere in the HE provider), transfer to another HE provider, or are absent from higher education completely two years after entry with a split for young and mature entrants.
Supplementary table NC1 below shows the percentage of full-time undergraduate entrants who are no longer in HE by the benchmark factors (entry qualifications and subject area) for both young and mature first degree and all other undergraduates to provide some contextual figures for the sector and in the derivation of the benchmarks.
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.
The supplementary table NC2 provides the percentages of students moving from start state to end state across two academic years.
Supplementary table NC3 provides a time series of UK domiciled full-time first degree starters by their year of programme.
Supplementary table NC4 shows a time series of the sector projected outcomes for first degree starters. In this projection, the concept of transferring to another HE provider is removed. As long as a student progresses, irrespective of which HE provider they study at, they contribute to the percentage projected to qualify. This means that the percentage projected to obtain a first degree will be higher than the UK total in Table T5.
UK Performance Indicators pages
- Widening participation
- Experimental statistics
- Employment of leavers
- Historic data
Support and contacts
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- Definitions and benchmark factors
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