Record rates of WA university students are dropping out, higher education data reveals

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The student dropout rate at WA universities has reached its highest point in a decade. Higher Education student attrition data released this week shows that 16.05 per cent of WA students who began an undergraduate course in 2015 did not return to university last year. Edith Cowan University had…

The student dropout rate at WA universities has reached its highest point in a decade.

Higher Education student attrition data released this week shows that 16.05 per cent of WA students who began an undergraduate course in 2015 did not return to university last year.

Edith Cowan University had the highest dropout rate compared with other WA institutions, with more than one in five, or 21.87 per cent, failing to return. Murdoch University also had an attrition rate higher than the State average, with 19.26 per cent.

Curtin University lost 16.34 per cent of students, Notre Dame University 10.63 per cent and the University of WA 7.23 per cent.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the national attrition rate had crept up to about 15 per cent, with some universities reporting double that.

“Too many students clearly aren’t getting the support they need to succeed,” he said.

Universities Australia deputy chief executive Catriona Jackson said the share of students dropping out was similar to a decade ago, despite a dramatic growth in the number of students going to university.

ECU senior deputy vice-chancellor academic Arshad Omari said attrition was linked to a range of factors, including academic preparation, expectations and students’ personal or financial circumstances.

Murdoch deputy vice-chancellor education Romy Lawson said it had a high proportion of part-time, mature-age students, students from lower socio-economic backgrounds and from rural areas.


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