She felt alone in the process, as she was unaware of services that were available to her and felt that there was no support given to her by the university when she decided to leave.
Are West Midland Universities really doing enough to prevent student’s dropping out?
Lily Bradbury was a first year student at Birmingham City University studying Media and Communications, however after only a month at the university she made the decision to drop out. She felt alone in the process, as she was unaware of services that were available to her and felt that there was no support given [...]
Is the first year at University the most important?
For student’s the first year at university is often the most crucial (especially within the first few months), it’s the time when many students gain life changing experience, but also learn to make the transition into academic study and learn various new skills which will help them during their studies.
The Story So Far 2….
We are nearing the end of our investigation now, and we are still working hard on many of our latest leads. This week we’ve been working on some exciting stuff including interviews and news reports. Here’s what the team have been up to this week:
Should it be easier to change university?
When students make the decision to drop out of university, there are many reasons why they choose to do so. A common reason is due to the university and course they are currently on. However being able to change course or university isn’t as easy as you may think, there are many obstacles in place [...]
Interview With A Coventry University Dropout
In this interview I talk with Courtny Harper, a student who dropped out of her first year at Coventry University in 2009/10. She has since enrolled at another university but makes her opinion of her first very clear. Which brings us back to our investigation: “Are West Midlands universities doing enough to prevent student dropouts?”
Results from interviewing dropout students have shown a clear patten of disappointment towards university services aimed at aiding them. At the time of dropping out these students mostly did not know who or where to turn to for guidance regarding their decisions, one Coventry University dropout even states “I just became invisible up until I had to get them to sign my drop out form“. Those very few who have had some idea of where to go for help on their decision have evidently been even more disappointed than those who couldn’t identify any visible services…
Mingling with the tweet-elite
Our pressence on Twitter has so far proved successful, drawing attention from the likes of The Guardian Higher Education (@GdnHigherEd) who have not only followed our Twitter page but also retweeted us. The European Students’ Union (@ESUtwt), which is an umbrella organisation of 45 National Unions of Students (NUSes) from 38 countries, has also followed and retweeted our investigation. Actively, I continue to approach figures of the educational community online; my most recent tweets were targeted at influential and opinionated sources such as Ann Mroz (@AnnMroz) who is a former editor of the Times Higher Education, and Fiona Millar (@schooltruth) who is a writer, journalist, school governor, and campaigner on educational issues - and also leads The Truth About Our Schools.
Recent statistics could suggest that low student satisfaction could be contributing to the UK’s dropout rates.
Results from the 2012 national student survey, compared to 2012 degree completion rates available on the complete university guide website shows that there is a link between student’s satisfaction with course quality, and dropout rates.
Specifically in the West Midlands, Wolverhampton University have a rate of 77% student satisfaction and 73% degree completion. Compared to Aston University who hold a respectable rate of 86% student satisfaction and 94% degree completion.
Despite these indications, no constructive action appears to be taken in regards to the improvement of course quality in Higher Education. These factors barely even seem to be highlighted as areas that should be addressed.
The only and most recent HEFCE report, that appears to challenge this issue of non-completion in higher education, doesn’t identify this as an area for improvement.
The report claims that traditional, 18-21 year old students tend to withdraw from their studies “because of a lack of preparation, commitment or compatibility.”
Other reasons the report gives for student dropouts include “external circumstances related to their home life or their job” and financial difficulties. Overall, no responsibility for higher education institutions themselves has been indicated.
Recent statistics recorded by the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that first year enrollments have suffered a sudden decrease this year.
HESA statistics suggest that higher education participation was prospering from the year 2004/5, but this year it has taken a dramatic turn for the worst. This applies to Universities across the UK, apart from Welsh HE institutions, who have had a 1% increase.
Scotland, who unlike Wales also holds the worst dropout rate has had the most significant drop in participation, at 8%. Northern Ireland follows them behind at 4% and England at a 3% drop.
But what does this mean for dropouts? Its important to consider that Higher Education institutions in the countries doing best in regards to non-continuation rates, are also succeeding at maintaining the same level of enrollments.
Is this because high dropout rates are putting potential applicants off? Are the number of applicants suitable for higher education simply dropping? Or are applicants being scared away by high tuition fees?
This all relates to the wider implications concerning whether west midland universities are doing enough to prevent dropouts.
The wider implications, on what is being done to ‘prevent student drop-outs’. The University of the West of Scotland leaders have launched a campaign to prevent students having to drop out of university.
The ‘Fair Share, Fair Access’ campaign aims to highlight the issues of student retention and find a way to help the one in five undergraduate students who feel the need to drop out of university as a result of personal problems, financial difficulties or trouble with their course.
President of the Students’ Association, Garry Quigley said:
“Student drop-out rates affect every university and college and for too long Governments, universities and even Students’ Associations have failed these students. For too long students have decided to drop out as they have felt they have had no one to turn too, felt that they had no support, felt they have had no other option but to drop out of university or college.”
“Drop-out rates affect our university most severely, with the drop-out rate being 21.4%.-the second highest in Scotland. So even though the University of the West of Scotland is great at giving those students who wouldn’t normally go to university, a chance to access a higher education, UWS is not that good at keeping those students in their respective courses.”
Do you know any campaigns in place to prevent student retention in your city in the UK? Tweet us, or comment below.
Following the investigation at Birmingham City University, as to whether universities in the West Midlands are doing enough to prevent student dropouts, I caught up with a BCU lecturer and welfare officer of the school of Media, Kerry Gough. To find out what schemes are in place to prevent student retention at the university.
Kerry explains that there has not being a ‘actual scheme in place for students at BCU, to prevent them from dropping out, but personal tutors were available at hand for help and support, if students were considering dropping out of university.’ However, Kerry continued to say, that as of now, three other students from Birmingham City University; and herself are working with the ‘student success and progression partnerships on a scheme to prevent further student retention at the university.’
The Student Success Partnership (SSP) is a new initiative of the Undergraduate Scheme to enable closer collaboration between those who teach and those who support to facilitate student success.
It is designed to identify and intervene proactively with ‘students at risk’ and put into place appropriate actions.
Kerry finished with saying that she will have ‘received the findings for the SSP survey by a fortnight today.’ Kerry kindly stated that she would keep us posted with the results for our investigation on university drop outs.
What schemes are in place to prevent student retention at your university? Tweet us, or comment below.
Transferring universities can often be seen as an alternative to dropping out, allowing students to continue with their studies just at another institution.
How do students go about transferring / How do they apply?
If a student wants to transfer from another university to us, they must withdraw from their current course and re-apply for the course they wish to transfer to via UCAS.
Students are then accepted in at different levels: e.g. at level 5 dependent on their qualifications and experience as direct entrants.
Through research I’ve found that courses are designed in conjunction with the skills taught in previous years. This means that students who are accepted without these skills could slow down their learning schedule and also the class.
It is important when transferring university that the institution you are currently studying at is notified of your intentions.
Why isn’t the process of transferring so easy?
It’s not that difficult of a process; it’s just a bit of a long process. We have to be sure that we are accepting students in with the correct qualifications and experience.
A lack of qualification and experience could increase the student’s chance of failing a specific course, which in turn could then increase their chances of dropping out.
Are students able to transfer courses?
Within the university (between courses) yes – depending on the course and the student’s qualifications. From another institution (or within the institution if it’s a completely different course) they would firstly have to withdraw from their current course at their currently university and then re-apply via UCAS.
How are students considered when transferred?
Students are usually considered by the Programme Director of the course that they are transferring to depending on their qualifications and experience.
All students that apply for the course are considered if they apply before the deadline.
Do all student transfers get accepted?
As long as they apply in the correct way, at the correct time and with the correct qualifications and experience there’s no reason they wouldn’t be accepted.
Sometimes they need to meet a certain percentage grade or pass the year to move to a new university.
As applications are considered on an individual basis this means that not every student who wants to transfer may be accepted. There are many reasons for this such as you may have applied after the deadline or not met the requirements needed.
If you are unable to transfer straight into the second year and want to leave your current institution, the first year of studies will have to be repeated at your new university. This means that it’ll take longer to graduate and leave yourself in more debt.
For students who had hoped to transfer in order to stay in education, may find their selves unhappy in their current situation and a failed transfer may result in them dropping out.
When it comes to getting advice on dropping out of university it seems that many students look to other services such as the admissions department.
Lesley Gabriel is a course administrator for the English department at Birmingham City University. She looks after the administrative side of student programmes of study and assessments and provides advice and guidance to students.