The percentage of first year Sussex University students dropping out has fallen over the past decade, according to figures published today (Thursday 21 March).
The figures are published annually by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
They show that 3.3 per cent of students – or 75 in total – who started degrees at Sussex in 2010-11 failed to continue to the second year of study.
This compares with 8.8 per cent in 2002-03 – or 170 in total – and 5.1 per cent in 2009-10 – or 120 students.
At Brighton University the proportion was 9.5 per cent – or 375 in total – down from 12.2 per cent – or 455 in total – a year earlier. The same figure in 2002-03 was 10.5 per cent or 260 students. In the intervening years Brighton University has almost doubled its intake of undergraduates.
At Sussex mature students – those over 21 when they start their degree – have also become less likely to drop out.
At Sussex just 2.6 per cent of younger students do not stay on their course after their first year.
The agency’s figures also show that Sussex is generally exceeding benchmark figures for widening participation.
It found that 85.2 per cent of the 2011-12 intake came from state schools or colleges compared with a benchmark of 77.8 per cent. Brighton University admitted an even higher proportion of state school students – 92.8 per cent.
And 6.2 per cent of Sussex students came from “low-participation neighbourhoods” compared with a benchmark of 5 per cent.
The university said that this year Sussex had doubled to £4.6 million the amount that it spent on widening participation.
It hoped that new initiatives, including the First–Generation Scholars scheme, could mean that the 2012-13 figures could be even better when they are published in a year’s time.
Nearly half of the 2012-13 entrants – 1,260 students – benefit from the First-Generation Scholars scheme.
Of those 1,260 students, 920 receive £5,000 financial help because their family income is less than £42,600.
The package also provides the students with wide-ranging support and guidance before, during and after their studies.
The other 340 scholarship recipients in 2012-13 did not qualify for the financial support. But as the first member of their family to go to university are able to benefit from the non-financial aspects of the scheme.
The university originally estimated that about 600 to 800 new students would be eligible for the scheme.
It gives first-year students living in university accommodation a £2,000 rent reduction, equivalent to £50 a week, or a fee waiver for those living in private accommodation.
The First-Generation Scholars scheme goes far beyond the minimum requirements laid down by the government which had a cut-off at £25,000 for family income.
The university said that if its scheme adhered to the standard national requirement it would have helped just 590 students.
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