Scots universities worst in UK for drop-out rates and attracting poorer students

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SCOTLAND is the worst in the UK for university drop-outs and for attracting students from the poorest backgrounds, according to new figures.

Almost one in 10 left in 2009-10, leaving Scotland behind Wales, England and Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, just over 27 per cent of students came from the poorest backgrounds in 2010-11, compared with more than 39 per cent in Northern Ireland which topped the league.

Despite the findings, the figures represent progress in Scotland in both areas compared with previous years.

Robin Parker, president of the National Union of Students in Scotland, said: “It’s simply unacceptable for Scotland’s universities to be worst in the whole of the UK for drop-out and getting people from the poorest background into university.

“We have made progress compared to last year but these figures shame our universities.”

The figures were released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

The drop-out rate in Scotland was 9.4 per cent, compared with 9 per cent in Wales, 8.4 per cent in England and 8.3 per cent in Northern Ireland. Almost one in four left the University of the West of Scotland.Students from the poorest backgrounds accounted for 27.2 per cent of the total in Scotland, 30.7 per cent in England, 31 per cent in Wales and 39.4 per cent in Northern Ireland. In Scotland, the percentage increased by 1.5 per cent in a year while the share decreased elsewhere.

Simon Jennings, deputy director at Universities Scotland, said: “Universities are committed to widening access and today’s figures show steady progress.

“It’s encouraging that universities in Scotland have shown greater improvement than anywhere else in the UK.”