Cambridge University has UK’s lowest dropout rate

Laura Pugh 4 April 2012

Despite university dropout rates soaring across the nation, it has been announced that Cambridge University has the lowest rate of students choosing to quit their degree.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency revealed that just 1.4% of students at the University fail to complete their course, compared to more than 1 in 5 undergraduates leaving before the end of their first year of study at other institutions. Bolton University was shown to have the highest dropout rate, with 45% of students failing to complete their degrees.

It is thought Cambridge’s thorough application process ensures places are offered only to students whose abilities and interests genuinely suit their course of choice. Cambridge undergraduates commented that the collegiate system creates an atmosphere in which students feel “well looked after”, while student activities, debates, ents and May Week all add to “The Cambridge Experience”. Alex Houlding, studying Economics, said “It’s a tight-knit community, there’s always someone there”, a view shared by English student Daniel Bartholomew, who added “high staff to student ratios can prevent individual students ‘slipping through the net’, and issues can be addressed before they escalate”.

It seems likely that a combination of factors such as these is the cause of the high numbers of Cambridge students completing their degrees, although differences in courses offered and varying proportions of disadvantaged students significantly impact drop-out rates and therefore complicate data comparisons. The government spending of £1bn on increasing retention rates across the UK has so far proved ineffective and drop-out rates are predicted to increase further, with tuition fee rises potentially forcing students to choose between cheaper courses and the degree best suited to them.

Laura Pugh