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UK Performance Indicators: Non-continuation 2020/21

New statistics from HESA show that 5.3% of young, full-time, first degree entrants in 2019/20 did not continue past their first year of study. This is the lowest non-continuation rate to be observed since UK Performance Indicators have been calculated.

Non-continuation: UK Performance Indicators - Provider level tables

Non-continuation: UK Performance Indicators - Summary

The statistics released today relate to students who entered higher education between 1 August 2019 and 31 July 2020 including the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national figure for young, full-time, first degree entrants represents a fall of 1.4 percentage points from the previous year. For the previous five years, the non-continuation rate for these entrants had remained between 6.5% and 6.8%.

The non-continuation rate for mature entrants also reduced from 13.5% to 11.9% of full-time first degree entrants not continuing into their second year.

Non-continuation indicators were produced for 179 UK HE providers, with rates ranging from 0% to over 30%.

Also published today are projected outcome statistics showing that 82.1% of UK domiciled full-time first degree starters are projected to obtain a degree at the same HE provider where they started. 9.4% of entrants were projected to leave higher education with no award – also the lowest proportion since these statistics have been calculated.

The increase in the proportion of entrants continuing in HE after their first year cannot be directly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic but there is often a trend for increased HE enrolments in periods of economic uncertainty. This behaviour may extend to a desire to continue degree courses when other paths outside HE are less certain.

The summary page of today’s UK Performance Indicators release shows the national and regional figures for non-continuation. The main tables provide detailed statistics for every UK higher education provider including a benchmark for each provider.


  • UK Performance Indicators (UKPIs) are statistics which compare universities and colleges against benchmarks for widening participation and non-continuation. No two HE providers in the UK are alike, but the UKPIs are designed to be objective and consistent measures of every HE provider’s performance. The UKPIs are not intended to be league tables and HE providers are intended to be compared against benchmarks. See About the UK Performance Indicators 
  • Benchmarks in the UK Performance Indicators are sector averages adjusted for the characteristics of providers and their entrants. The benchmarks are not official targets.
  • See Upcoming data releases for a schedule of Official Statistics releases from HESA, including Statistical Bulletins, Performance Indicators and full open data releases. 
  • HESA cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived from the data by third parties.
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