This report seeks to understand the factors affecting non-continuation and transfers at London universities.
London’s non-continuation rate is 7.7%, which is much higher than the English average of 6.3%, and students in London are the most likely to transfer to another university compared to students in the rest of the country. We seek to build on previous SMF work by focusing on why students leave university in London and the report looks in-depth at the differences in retention by ethnicity and socio-economic status.
Key themes raised in the discussions with those who had withdrawn from university include:
- Term time accommodation and commuting
- Cost of living
- Course choice and value for money
- Preparation and support
- Mental health issues
The demographics of the student population in London appear to contribute to its higher than average non-continuation rate. London has a large number of black students attending its universities (14%), and more than one in ten (13%) of Black students withdraw from their studies in London. However, our analysis suggests that the high non-continuation rate among London’s black students is largely explained by factors other than ethnicity. A significant proportion of Black students (42%) enter university in London with a BTEC, and students following this route are much more likely on average to withdraw from their studies.
The report concludes by setting out some potential steps that could be considered by London universities and government. These include:
- Improving the experience of commuters including: Timetabling, flexible accommodation, more appropriate facilities on campus for universities, and making it easier for students to use the facilities of other London universities.
- Coordinating collective evidence gathering across London universities on student retention.
- Helping students manage the costs of transport and accommodation in London.
- Establishing better access to good quality advice and guidance to help potential candidates make the best choice of course, institution and career before entering higher education.
- Promoting better awareness of transferring university and rewarding universities that help students successfully transfer to other institutions.
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