...those who drop out of HE

4th September 1998 at 01:00
Recent features concerning the 1999 PUSH Guide have raised issues about the use of data supplied by Higher Education Statistics Agency.

From our perspective, we have no doubt that the raw data the agency supplied to the PUSH Guide was correct. However, the flunk rates published were constructed independently by PUSH.

The statistics agency is a collector of data and a supplier of objective information. It is not the agency's job to construct performance indicators, such as flunk rates, or league tables, nor do we advise about the methodology for calculating them from our data.

The agency is, however,obliged to ensure that adequate information is in the public domain, to enable such indicators and tables to be produced; and it is probably fair to say that adequate information about student progression is not yet available.

Calculations of the drop-out rate from higher education are notoriously complex and difficult to define.

Increasingly this is the case as students adopt mixed mode programmes of study, and drop into, as well as out of, higher education over a lengthy period of time. We are working to rectify this omission.

Brian Ramsden. Chief executive. Higher Education Statistics Agency. 18 Royal Crescent. Cheltenham. Gloucestershire

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