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Uni drop-out rates show need for more support, not capped enrolments

Written by Tim Pitman and Paul Koshy, NCSEHE, for The Conversation

The latest Selected Higher Education Statistics have revealed an increase in student attrition, or the percentage of students commencing in 2013 who neither completed nor re-enrolled in 2014.

In 2013, the national figure for domestic commencing bachelor students in all higher education providers was 14.79%, compared to 13.43% in 2012. This attrition rate is the highest it has been since 2005, when it was 15.04%.

It is likely that the demand-driven system has had an effect on attrition rates, as the increase in attrition has come at the same time as an increase in enrolments. Also, since the introduction of the demand-driven system, offers to students with ATARS of 60 or below have increased from 9.4% in 2009 to 12.5% in 2014.

But it is worthwhile noting the national attrition rate in 2005 of 15.04% was recorded seven years before the demand-driven system was implemented. There are also significant differences in attrition rates between fields of study, student demographics and between institutions. This deserves further analysis.

There is a fair degree of consensus in regard to a correlation between increasing attrition rates and the introduction of the demand-driven system. However, determining the consequences, both positive and negative, of the increase in attrition rates is more complex.

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Posted 4 August 2015 Posted in Editorial, Low SES, Regional, rural and remote