TWO Scottish universities have registered the greatest student dropout rate rises in the UK, according to new research.

Some two out of three UK universities and colleges have seen an increase in non-completion rates for students over five years.

Analysis covering a five-year period from 2011/12 to 2016/17 shows that in some cases, dropout rates have risen by more than five percentage points.

Two of the seven institutions which had an increase of more than five percentage points in the five-year period were in Scotland.

The University of Abertay, Dundee, topped the list, with an 8.6 percentage point rise over this five-year period, from 3.5% in 2011/12 to 12.1% in 2016/17.

READ MORE: Do not blame Brexit for Scots' lack of prospects

And the University of Highlands and Islands, which has nearly 10,000 full or part-time students came a close second with a 7.9 percentage point rise. University information states that 70.3% of full-time students successfully completed their studies at Highlands and Islands colleges in the 2017 to 2018 academic year.

The development comes at a time when Scottish institutions have been trying to improve the further education experience for students to make sure they get the most out of their time.


And universities have come under greater scrutiny and pressure to be more transparent about areas such as drop-out rates and graduate outcomes.

A spokesman for the University of Abertay said the institution "recognises that there is a need to improve student retention" and is introducing measures to do so, including recruiting additional student advisers and using data analysis to pinpoint early warning signs that a student may be experiencing difficulties and need support.

He added that Abertay has one of the highest proportions of disadvantaged students in Scotland, and that more than a third of students arrive at the university from college into the second or third year of a degree.

"This mean the life experiences of our students are often very different from those elsewhere," he said.

The UK-wide examination reveals that 100 UK institutions (67%) saw an increase in the proportion of students dropping out.

At just under a third (31%), some 46 institutions, non-completion rates fell during this period, while at four universities and colleges the proportion remained static.

The University of the West of Scotland registered the biggest drop in dropout rates in the UK with an 8.6 percentage point dip.

A study in March, 2018, stated that the dropout rate for students at Scottish universities was at the lowest for 19 years.

The figures for 2015-16 showed that just 6.2% gave up their studies before their second year in Scotland compared with the UK average of 6.4%.

The new analysis used annual data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency for 150 universities and colleges, and covered UK, full-time undergraduate students who were no longer in higher education the year after they started their course.

A spokesman for vice-chancellors' group Universities UK said: "Universities are committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring students from all backgrounds can succeed and progress.

READ MORE: Twelve Scottish universities to be hit as 7000 take part in eight-day strike

"This includes supporting students to achieve the best outcomes in not only getting into university, but flourishing while they are there. Many have specific plans in place to deliver this - for example in England access and participation plans are usually a required commitment for institutions.

"However, it is clear that non-continuation is still an issue and institutions must continue to work to support students to progress and succeed at university."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The latest data from HESA shows that retention rates at Scottish universities continued to improve for the third consecutive year, outperforming the UK as a whole.

“Our commitment to widening access and free tuition to higher education means that, unlike elsewhere in the UK, Scottish students studying in Scotland do not incur additional debt of up to £27,000. We are investing a record amount in student support and have record numbers of students in higher education from the most deprived areas for the fourth year in a row."

The following list gives the change in drop-out rates for Scottish universities and colleges, listed alphabetically. 
It gives the name of the institution and then the percentage point change (increase, decrease or stayed the same) in drop-out rates between 2011/12 and 2016/17.

Edinburgh Napier University -0.8
Glasgow Caledonian University 1.4
Glasgow School of Art -2.5
Heriot-Watt University -2.8
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh 0.4
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland 1.1
SRUC 1.7
The Robert Gordon University -1.1
The University of Aberdeen -1.1
The University of Dundee 0.9
The University of Edinburgh -1.0
The University of Glasgow -0.7
The University of St Andrews 0.4
The University of Stirling 1.4
The University of Strathclyde 0.4
The University of the West of Scotland -8.6
University of Abertay Dundee 8.6
University of the Highlands and Islands 7.9