Increase in University fees reduce drop-out rates

1 September 2015

A report from Lancaster University Management School has shown that university drop-out rates fell shortly after tuition fees were increased.

The study reported by economists Steve Bradley and Giuseppe Migali, examined the impact of the 2006 fee increases, when they increased from about £1000 to £3,000 and identified that trebling fees almost a decade ago changed the possibility of first-year students in England and Northern Ireland of dropping out of university. Since then fees have trebled in England with figures of up to £9,000 per year.

The study also highlighted that drop-out rates had fallen across all subject areas, for all socio-economic backgrounds and for both men and women. The biggest reduction was in the social sciences.

It further suggested that students’ thoughts were focused on getting good degree and pay off their debts as opposed to the higher fees. It found that drop-out rates had in fact fallen by 16 per cent as a result of the fee increase – with the biggest reduction demonstrated in Russell Group universities at 33 per cent, particularly male students.

Nonetheless, it was also found that the increase in university fees could have deterred some young people from going to university as people from predominantly low-income families might have decided not to apply especially as they would be at higher risking of dropping out.

But the figures, examining student behaviour up to 2010, showed a consistently lower drop-out rate than before fees had been increased.

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