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Which UK Universities Have The Highest Mature Student Dropout Rates?

posted by Greg on Monday, 30 September 2019

New research conducted by Oxbridge has shown that mature students are increasingly dropping out of higher education.

Amassing data on universities nationwide, we found that, on average, 12% of mature students dropout of their university course each year in the UK. To emphasise, that’s over 10,000 people dropping out every single year – a surprising figure.

**For clarity, a mature student is anyone who enrols in university education that’s over the age of 21.**

The reasons for dropping out, though, aren’t so surprising. It’s proven that mature learners leave for reasons such as lack of support, poor value for money, and pressure to attend class. However, learners don’t realise this until they’ve enrolled.

By this time, it’s too late as our latest stats reveal.

Mature Student Dropout Rates In The UK

New research conducted by Oxbridge shows the percentage of mature students currently dropping out of universities in the UK every year.













The University of Bedfordshire has the highest mature student dropout rate, with 30% of students not completing their degree.

Five of the top 10 universities in the list are based in London, with two West Midlands universities featured in the top 20.

The full top 20 list is below:

Rank HE provider % no longer in HE
1 University of Bedfordshire 30.4
2 London Metropolitan University 24.3
3 SOAS University of London 22.0
4 Plymouth College of Art 20.6
5 University of Wales Trinity Saint David 19.9
6 Roehampton University 19.4
7 Newman University 19.0
8 City, University of London 18.7
9 Goldsmiths College 17.8
10 The University of Westminster 17.7
11 The University of Bolton 15.9
12 Loughborough University 15.8
13 Birkbeck College 15.5
14 Staffordshire University 15.2
15 Leeds Beckett University 15.1
16 Aston University 15.1
17 The University of the West of Scotland 14.8
18 Norwich University of the Arts 14.7
19 University of the Highlands and Islands 14.6
20 The University of Sunderland 14.5

Which Courses Do Mature Students Dropout From?

The most common course type for mature student dropouts is Computer Science, with 20% of students not completing their degree.  Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science courses have the lowest dropout rates at only 2%.

Here are the five most common course types mature students have dropped out from:

  • Computer Sciences – 20% dropout rate
  • Biological Studies – 16% dropout rate
  • Business & Administrative Studies – 14% dropout rate
  • Historical & Philosophical Studies – 13% dropout rate
  • Languages – 13% dropout rate

Why Do People Dropout Of University?

There are many reasons why students drop out of university, but one of the most common students’ reference is the lack of support. Other key reasons include:

1. Lack Of Support

Support is such a vital part of any learning journey. Yet, many mature learners feel a lack of support whilst on their university course, leading to them leaving partway through.

2. Value For Money

With the average degree now costing over £9,000 annually for UK students (it’s even more for international students!), many students are exiting their courses as they don’t feel that they’re getting real value for money.

3. Negative Impacts On Mental Health

Several big changes come with enrolling onto a university course, from moving home to meeting new people, new routines and fast-paced education. These changes can affect the mental health of students, with 60% of mature learners showing signs of anxiety, as well as exhibiting feelings of loneliness and feeling overwhelmed.

4. Felt Pressured To Attend

Many mature learners are pressured into further education by family, friends, and even teachers. The pressure for approval, to meet standards or unrealistic expectations set by others leads to higher dropout rates.

Do You Need A Degree To Succeed?

Degrees aren’t a metric of success in today’s education and jobs market. Students just need to complete a course that’s relevant to their desired career and gain invaluable work experience, which often outweighs a degree.

However, there are some career paths that require a degree, particularly medical and legal careers. In these cases, we always advise learners do their own research into the industry they wish to join before deciding on their education path.

What Other Education Routes Are Available?

Distance Learning is the most popular education alternative to university. In the last year alone, Oxbridge has seen its student numbers increase by over 300%.

Distance Learning allows learners across the country to gain new skills on their own terms, without the pressures to attend class or shift your life in any dramatic way. Oxbridge also offers unlimited tutor support to every learner, negating the £9,000 tuition fees and the lack of support and many at university feel.