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Taking action in higher education

UCU responds to student drop out report

20 February 2008 | last updated: 14 December 2015

UCU said today that increased support for pastoral care in universities is vital to encourage more students to stay on at university and complete their degree.

A student retention report released today by the Public Accounts Committee entitled 'Staying the course' reveals that, despite universities receiving £800m in the last five years to spend on retaining students, there has been virtually no improvement in the number of students staying on to complete degrees.

The report acknowledges the importance of the pastoral support tutors offer students and recommends that 'Reward systems for academic staff should give sufficient recognition to performance in respect of personal tuition.'

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Getting more students in to our universities is a laudable aim, but it can not be done on the cheap and just getting them through the doors does not represent success. If the government and universities are serious about opening up universities to the lower socio-economic groups then they must recognise the extra support these people need and properly resource it.

'No student should drop out because they can't afford to stay the course or because the support they need is not available. We are glad today's report recognises the important pastoral work that university staff do, but ever-increasing student numbers and workloads mean too many students are slipping through the net.'

'Staying the course' recognises that students from non-traditional backgrounds are the most likely to drop out of university and institutions doing the most to try and meet the government's widening participation agenda are the ones most likely to suffer high drop out rates. It also highlights the fact that part-time students are far less likely to complete their studies - information that is not covered in the national data on drop out rates.

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