1 in 4 college students drops out of course

FE minister Richard Lochhead demands action so more students 'not just enrol, but stay the course' in Scottish colleges

Julia Belgutay

A new hub will aim to tackle the one in four drop-out rate at Scottish colleges

Scotland’s further education minister has tasked the College Development Network with setting up a new hub to help tackle the college drop-out rate.

Scottish Funding Council data for 2016-17 showed there had been 13,443 withdrawals from full-time further education study at colleges – 27 per cent of the total number of students.

FE minister Richard Lochhead said he wanted to substantially reduce the current overall 25 per cent drop-out rate in colleges so that more Scottish college students “not just enrol, but stay the course”.

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College drop-out rates

He said a pilot, involving Dundee and Angus, Edinburgh and Inverness colleges, as well as New College Lanarkshire and West College Scotland, had shown that targeting specific courses and cohorts with concerted efforts to ensure they stay does make a difference.

The colleges used quality improvement methodology to review their systems and processes and engage with students. Staff at all levels, from senior managers to support assistants, as well as students, were involved in shaping ideas for improvement.

The pilot led to an increase in student completions and identified some of the reasons why students decide to leave early – including complex personal issues, funding or an unsuitable course choice.

“In the wake of the pilot’s success, I have now tasked CDN to establish this new hub to offer a tailored service to help the college sector cut the number of those leaving early, improve attainment levels and raise overall performance,” said Mr Lochhead.

The hub will also support professional development opportunities for school and college staff and help to improve collaboration among colleges. It will also provide access to practical tools and information from other successful projects.

Mr Lochhead said: “This represents a new partnership approach to quality improvement in Scotland’s colleges. Ultimately the aim is to ensure more students emerge with a college qualification that will help them fulfil their potential.”

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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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