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The Russell Group universities with the highest dropout rates, revealed

Around 390 students drop out of one Russell Group uni each year


“Should I drop out of uni?” It’s what thought by every student each time you leave an essay until the night before it’s due. But how many people actually do it?

Every single adult you speak to reflecting back on their uni days tells you that university is supposed to be the best time of your life. But for a lot of students, that is far from the case. The rising cost of living and student mental health crisis means that many students decide to cut their university experience short by dropping out.

This year’s Guardian University Guide not only ranks UK universities on student satisfaction, staff-to-student ratio and spending, but it also tells us how many students drop out before their second year of uni.

So here is a ranking of the Russell Group universities with the highest drop out rates:

24. University of Cambridge – 1 per cent

With a drop out rate of only one per cent, Cambridge has the lowest drop out rate of all Russell Group universities. With an intake of 4,000 freshers a year, this means an average of 40 students drop out in their first year.

23. University of Oxford – 2 per cent

Just missing out to St Andrews as the best UK university, The University of Oxford has a drop out rate of two per cent, with 98 per cent of students continuing into second year. Honestly when it’s that much effort to get in I understand why not many people do.

22. University of Durham – 2.5 per cent

Forever trying to be like Oxbridge, The University of Durham has just slightly more students dropping out than Oxford at 2.5 per cent. With around 6,000 first years at Durham, this means around 150 students drop out each year.

21. University of Edinburgh – 2.9 per cent

The University of Edinburgh, which came 14th in the overall rankings also has a pretty low drop out rate. At 2.9 per cent, 97.1 per cent of students at Edinburgh decide to carry on into second year.

20. University of Bristol – 3.4 per cent

With a drop out rate of 2.9 per cent, Bristol is up next. Bristol has an average intake of 4,333 new freshers which means an average of 125 students drop out before second year.

19. London School of Economics – 3.4 per cent

With a drop out rate of 2.9 per cent, Bristol is up next. Bristol has an average intake of 4,333 new freshers which means an average of 125 students drop out before second year.

19. London School of Economics – 3.4 per cent

Another London uni, University College London has an average drop out rate of 3.7 per cent. Accepting around 6,000 new freshers each year, that’s around 222 first years dropping out of uni at UCL.

17. University of Warwick – 3.7 per cent

With a continuation rate of 96.3, around 3.7 per cent of freshers at Warwick drop out in first year. The University of Warwick accepts around 4,950 new students a year which means around 183 freshers drop out in their first year.

16. University of Manchester – 3.8 per cent

The University of Manchester has an average drop out rate of 3.8 per cent. This leaves 96.2 per cent of students carrying on at the university into second year.

15. University of Exeter – 3.8 per cent

Exeter came 18th in the overall rankings but is 15th in the Russell Group unis with the most students dropping out in first year. With a continuation rate of 96.2 per cent, that leaves 3.8 per cent of students dropping out in their first year.

14. University of Birmingham – 4 per cent

Four per cent of all freshers at Birmingham drop out in their first year. With an average intake of 7,865, this means that 314 Birmingham students are dropping out of uni for various reasons in their first year.

13. University of Leeds – 4 per cent

Known for a good time, 4 per cent of all first years at The University of Leeds also drop out each year. Leeds accepts around 6,616 undergrads a year meaning that the four per cent of dropouts equates to around 264 students dropping out.

12. University of York – 4 per cent

Again at four per cent, The University of York, which came 19th in the overall uni rankings, has a continuation rate of 96 per cent.

11. University of Liverpool – 4.1 per cent

Slightly higher than York, Leeds and Birmingham, the drop out rate at The University of Liverpool is 4.1 per cent. Liverpool accepts around 5,910 freshers each year meaning that on average 242 freshers leave uni before going into second year.

10. University of Nottingham – 4.3 per cent

The University of Nottingham was done so dirty in the overall rankings, with Nottingham Trent actually coming higher. But it has the tenth highest drop out rate of all Russell Group unis. With 95.7 per cent of first years carrying on into second, Notts’ drop out rate is at 4.3 per cent.

9. University of Sheffield – 4.3 per cent

At Sheffield, the drop out rate for first years is 4.3 per cent. The University of Sheffield takes around 6,ooo new freshers every year. This means an average of 258 Sheffield students drop out of uni per year.

8. Imperial College London – 4.4 per cent

Only one per cent more than Sheffield, Imperial’s drop out rate is 4.4 per cent. This means that a solid 95.6 per cent of freshers like Imperial enough to stay for second year.

7. Queen Mary University of London – 4.7

At Queen Mary University of London the continuation rate for freshers is 95.3 per cent, leaving a drop out rate for first years at 4.7 per cent.

6. Newcastle University – 4.7 per cent

Newcastle University made the list for most Instagrammable UK universities but that doesn’t stop people dropping out. With a continuation rate of 95.3 per cent, the uni has 4.7 per cent of its students drop out before they reach second year.

5. University of Southampton – 4.9 per cent

With a drop out rate of 4.9 per cent, Southampton has the fifth highest number of students dropping out each year. And honestly being at Southampton I hardly blame them.

4. University of Glasgow – 5.3 per cent

The University of Glasgow came in the top 20 best universities in the UK at 13th but is also number four for the highest amount of drop outs. With 94.7 per cent of students continuing into second year, 5.3 per cent of all Glasgow students drop out of uni.

3. King’s College London – 5.4 per cent

With the highest drop out rate of all the London Russell Groups, King’s College London has a 5.4 per cent drop out rate. 94.6 per cent of students at King’s carry on into their second year.

2. Cardiff University – 5.5 per cent

Cardiff has the second highest drop out rate of all UK universities. At 5.5 per cent, the University of Cardiff has a continuation rate of 94.5 per cent. Cardiff takes just over 7,100 new freshers every year meaning that on average, 390 students drop out per year.

1.Queen’s University Belfast – 6.2 per cent

And with the biggest drop out rate of all the Russell Group universities, 6.2 per cent of students at Queen’s University Belfast drop out before going into second year. With an average of 5,666 first year students, this means that around 351 students drop out of Queens a year.

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