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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 July 2006, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Figures reveal student drop-outs
University lecture
The findings follow falling numbers of first-time degree entrants
Students in Scotland have the highest drop-out rate in the UK, according to new figures.

During 2004-05, 11.6% (3,645) of students in higher education left after their first year of study, compared with a UK average of 9.5%.

The UHI Millennium Institute in Inverness had the highest drop-out rate with 31.8% while for Bell College in Hamilton it was 30.2%.

Napier and Paisley universities also had a high number of drop-outs.

Napier saw withdrawals of 20.2% while 19.4% dropped out in Paisley

Among those who don't complete their studies, many opt to leave university to enter the labour market
Scottish Executive spokesman

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, Scotland had the highest proportion of the UK, ahead of England at 9.1%, Wales at 10.7% and Northern Ireland's 11.4%.

The HESA findings come in the wake of falling numbers of first-time degree entrants.

It also revealed that 29,875 students started first-time courses at universities in Scotland during 2004-05, compared with 31,495 the year before.

However, Scotland's drop-out rate had fallen from the previous year's figure of 12.1%.

Overall, the UK figures showed fewer teenagers from poor backgrounds were going to university.

They revealed that 28.2% of young first year degree students starting courses in 2004-05 came from lower socio-economic groups, down from 28.6% the previous year.

Deprived backgrounds

The proportion of young first years who went to university from state schools or colleges fell - from 86.8% in 2003-04 to 86.7% in 2004-05.

Scotland is said to have the highest proportion of students from deprived backgrounds in the UK with 18.6% of the 2004-05 intake coming from low participation neighbourhoods, compared with a UK average of 13.7%.

Universities Scotland, which represents university principals, said all institutions now had initiatives in place to support students.

It added that the country's higher drop-out rate was due in part to the success of attracting students from poorer backgrounds.

A spokesman said: "If you are going to widen the net and bring in more students you are going to be bringing in more students who will be the first in their family to go to university.

"They need more support if they are going to get successful outcomes."

Bell College said its retention figures were based on the college's 200 first-time degree students - out of a total population of nearly 3,000 students.

University lecture
The executive said investment in the sector is at record levels

A spokesman said the overall rate was much lower, adding: "The college has put in place a support degree retention strategy."

UHI principal Professor Bob Cormack said its figure was distorted by large numbers of students taking one-year degree courses from HNC and HND courses, automatically leaving after 12 months.

The Scottish Executive said it had invested record amounts in higher education, removing fees for the vast majority of Scots students and targeting student support toward those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

A spokesman said: "Among those who don't complete their studies, many opt to leave university to enter the labour market.

"It would be wrong to view such individuals' time in higher education as a failure."

See why Scotland has the highest student drop-out rate

Scotland entices English students
15 Feb 06 |  Scotland
Fall in Scottish student numbers
19 Jan 06 |  Scotland
Fewer Scots set to study at home
19 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Tuition fees rise for non-Scots
20 Jul 05 |  Scotland
State schools' student share fall
21 Sep 05 |  Education
Increase in university drop-outs
22 Sep 05 |  Scotland


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