Student drop-out rates are on the rise, the latest official figures suggest.
Some Scottish universities had the highest drop-out rates
The number of students who quit after the first year rose from 7.3% of 2001's intake to 7.8% among those starting in 2002 - a rise of about 1,800 students.
A further 1,000 mature students also ditched their courses over the same period, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) figures claimed.
Higher education minister Bill Rammell said UK course completion rates were higher than other developed countries.
He said the government continued to encourage low-performing institutions to improve.
The HESA predicted 14.4% of full-time students who started their first degrees in 2002 would not complete their courses.
This was up from a figure of 14.1% one year earlier.
Drop-out rates were highest in some Scottish colleges and former polytechnics.
In Scotland, the highest rates were at Bell College in Hamilton (38.5%), while the University of Abertay Dundee, Napier University and the University of Paisley all had first-year drop-out rates above 20%.
In England, London South Bank University, London Metropolitan University, Liverpool Hope University College and Bolton Institute of Higher Education all had drop-out rates of more than 15%.
In Wales, the University of Glamorgan had a rate of above 15%, while in Northern Ireland the University of Ulster (12.9%) was the highest.
Figures for the whole of the UK showed that 18,565 young students dropped out of university or college after starting their courses in 2002.
This was up from 16,795 who dropped out over the previous 12 months.
And 10,755 mature students abandoned their courses after a year, up by about 1,000 on the figure for the previous year.