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Which students are most likely to drop out of university?

Written by Adjunct Professor Gavin Moodie (RMIT University) for The Conversation

Almost since taking office, Education Minister Simon Birmingham has reiterated the Coalition’s commitment to allowing universities to recruit as many students as they wish. It is what the higher education sector has called “the demand driven system”.

Birmingham has, however, emphasised that universities should not admit students who are unlikely to complete their program. University attrition rates have increased from 12.5% in 2009 before the demand driven system was phased in to 14.8% in 2014.

Universities have been increasing enrolments to bolster revenue but some haven’t selected students with enough care and provided them with enough support to ensure they succeed.

According to at least one report, the forthcoming budget on 3 May will include “penalties for institutions with high attrition rates”.

Just how that will be done is not entirely clear since attrition rates depend on numerous factors, only a minority of which can be influenced by institutions.

So what do we know about who is likely to drop out and why? And what can universities do to reduce drop out rates?

Who’s most at risk?

Latest research published in 2015 found that completion rates were lower for Indigenous students, part-time students, external students, students over 25 years, remote students and students from low socio and economic backgrounds.

Infographic detailing university drop out rates

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Posted 31 March 2016 Posted in General, Indigenous, Low SES