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27% quit university course after just a year

By Kathryn Torney

More than a quarter of students dropped out of one course at the University of Ulster after just a year, according to new figures.

The students, who were studying engineering and technology, started their course in 2007/08 but 26.9% did not return for their second year.

Statistics on local university drop-out rates released by the Department of Employment and Learning show that the UU’s average drop-out rate over three years to 2007/08 was 13.6%, compared to 6.9% at Queen's University.

The UK average of 8.7%.

The figures were released in response to an Assembly question from the DUP’s Michelle McIlveen.

A spokeswoman for the NUS-USI student organisation said it was concerned at the figures and that it has raised the issue with the DEL.

“To suggest that approximately an average of over 10% of first-time entrants between the Northern Ireland institutions drop out of their degree is alarming and is something that the department needs to raise with institutions.

“Questions need to be asked as to why this is happening.”

Prof Denise McAlister, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning at the UU, said that the main reasons why students drop out from university include family circumstances, financial pressures, homesickness, difficulty adapting to university life and inappropriate choice of degree course.

Both the UU and Queen's University said that they have put additional student support measures in place.

A spokesman for Queen's University said: “Keeping students on course and avoiding drop-out is a priority for the university. Queen's starts working with potential students well before they arrive in the university.”

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