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More Sussex students staying the course

The proportion of Sussex students dropping out of university in their first year has fallen dramatically over the last decade, show figures published today (Thursday 21 March).

These latest performance indicators, which are published annually by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), reveal that only 3.3% of students who started degrees at Sussex in 2011-12 failed to continue to the second year of study. This is compared to 8.8% in 2002-03 and 5.1% as recently as 2010-11.

The progression rate of mature students - those over 21 at the start of their degree - has shown a particular improvement, with the withdrawal rate falling to 7% in 2011-12; nearly five percentage points lower than the benchmark figure of 11.7% set by the government and down from 10.7% in 2010-11 and 17.1% in 2005-06.

At Sussex, just 2.6% of younger entrants decided not to continue in higher education after their first year.

The data also shows that Sussex is generally exceeding benchmark figures for widening participation, with 85.2% of the 2011-12 intake coming from state schools or colleges (against a benchmark of 77.8%) and 6.2% from ‘low participation neighbourhoods’ (against a benchmark of 5%).

The University has this year doubled to £4.6 million the amount that it spends on widening participation.

The success of a number of new initiatives, including the innovative First–Generation Scholars scheme, could mean that the University sees further improvement when the 2012-13 statistics are published in a year’s time.

Nearly half (1,260) of 2012-13 entrants are currently benefitting from the First-Generation Scholars scheme, with 920 of these receiving a £5,000 financial support package for students whose 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 around 600-800 new students would be eligible for the scheme, which 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. A Sussex scheme adhering to this standard national requirement would have benefitted just 590 students.

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Thursday, 21 March 2013

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