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"Worryingly high” dropout rates for black students in higher education

Race equality in higher education remains a challenge with “worryingly high” dropout rates for black students

The Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) believes that the dropout rate for UK-domiciled black students from UK universities is worryingly high.

Black students have a higher rate of non-continuation in higher education than any other a ethnic group. Among full time students who started a first degree in 2010/11, 11.2 per cent of black students left higher education before completing their degree, compared with 6.9 per cent of white students. UK students of Chinese ethnicity were most likely to complete their degrees, with only 5.5 per cent of Chinese students leaving higher education early.

Each student who drops out of university without completing their degree has their own personal reasons. But some universities have far higher dropout rates than others. Nearly 17 per cent of full time first degree students who started at London Metropolitan University in 2010/11 did not continue with their degree, compared with just one per cent of students at Cambridge University. In 2010/11, black students made up just 2.7 per cent of students at Russell Group universities and the average non-continuation rate across the Russell Group institutions was 3.3 per cent. In contrast, 11.3 per cent of students at the Million + universities were black and the average non-continuation rate was 11.2 per cent. It looks like there is a strong link between where you go to university and how likely you are to dropout, as well as a clear link between the likelihood that you will attend a prestigious university and your ethnic group. The end result is that one in nine black students starting university in the UK leaves higher education without completing their degree.

Jeremy Crook OBE, Director of BTEG says

“A university education is expensive but essential for all young people who want a professional career. It is disappointing to see that black students are far more likely to dropout of university than students from other ethnic groups. We need to know more about what is behind these numbers. Universities, especially those with high dropout rates, should be looking closely at what support they can offer for black students to successfully complete their degrees.”


Statistics for non-continuation rates by ethnic group are from the Equality Challenge Unit Equality in higher education: statistical report 2013

Statistics for non-continuation rates by HE institution are from the Higher Education Statistics Agency


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