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Friday, 3 December, 1999, 06:47 GMT
NI's universities attract poorer students
Queen's University keeps majority of its students Queen's University keeps majority of its students

By BBC NI's education correspondent Maggie Taggart

The two universities in Northern Ireland attract more students from lower income families than other universities in the United Kingdom.

However, figures show a higher drop-out rate among some students in the University of Ulster.

UK universities have been told to recruit more students from poor backgrounds and from districts which do not have a track record in higher education.

A survey shows how well they have done but how many people drop out early.

Completing a degree

On average, 18% leave university before they complete their degree.

Queen's University in Belfast does better, keeping all but 10% of its students.

But the University of Ulster has the best record in the UK for attracting students from unlikely neighbourhoods and poorer families, around 40% of its undergraduates.

Despite that success, it loses a large chunk of those students before they graduate.

A spokeswoman said she acknowledged the apparent contradiction and they are examining the figures.

The statistics are for two and three years ago and so pre-date the introduction of tuition fees and the abolition of grants so the drop out rate cannot be put down to people being priced out of university.
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