Letter: Student dropouts

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The forthcoming figures, expected to show a student dropout rate of 40 per cent at some universities, are worrying indeed (report, 27 November).

However, if attrition is worst at those universities with the "highest proportion of students from deprived backgrounds" isn't it clear that answers don't lie in money for "staff and students and first-class science equipment" (David Triesman, AUT) nor in "face-to-face contact with lecturers" (Tom Wilson, Natfhe)?

Young people, and the diminishing numbers of mature students, are much more likely to drop out after the first year because of spiralling debt. Many will face around pounds 15,000 of debt on graduation, to be repaid on starting work. That prospect is enough to make any family's faith in the ultimate benefits of higher education waver.

Increasing numbers are forced to work while studying (not just during vacations). This can affect their marks and possibly the class of degree they will obtain and thus the job they might get. Struggling to make ends meet and diminishing confidence in what it will all lead to, plus a couple of demanding letters from the bank, would make anyone think about throwing in the mortar board.


Newcastle upon Tyne