FEWER first-year students dropped out of courses at Bournemouth University last year than ever before, figures show – despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on higher education.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan welcomed the latest statistics which show the proportion of students dropping out of degree courses fell to a record low last year across the UK.

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that around 3,265 students aged under 21 began a full-time first degree course at Bournemouth University in 2019-20 – and 185 quit before the second year.

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The HESA said that while the increase in the proportion of students continuing with their courses after their first year cannot be directly linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is often a trend towards increased university enrolment in “periods of economic uncertainty”.

Minister for higher and further education Michelle Donelan said getting on at university is just as important in getting in, and providers must continue to focus on tackling drop-out rates.

She added:

"This is real progress, impacting real lives – and I want to put on record my thanks to our universities for their hard work, especially through a challenging pandemic, in reaching this milestone."