Headlines: January 14th, 2003

Many university dropouts blame their schools for pushing them to enter university when they would have benefited from a year out of education to think about their choices more carefully. Schools are also criticized for failing to present more vocational methods of learning as viable alternatives to university. A survey of some 15,000 dropouts by the Institute for Educational Research found that a mistaken choice of course accounted for 24% of students leaving university. Financial and personal problems were given as the other main causes of dropping out.Although 1 in 4 dropouts were employed in non graduate jobs, such as catering, cleaning, or security work, three years after leaving university, compared to 1 in 10 who graduated, they found equal satisfaction in their jobs. The survey revealed that dropouts did not appear to suffer any financial penalty from failing to complete their courses. They do, however, experience feelings of personal failure and are conscious of the stigma attached to early withdrawal from higher education.

It is predicted that 17% of students who started courses in 1998/99 will not secure any qualification.