Study suggests poorer students more likely to drop out of uni
A new study has suggested that a high percentage of students from lower income backgrounds feel ‘isolated' at university, and are more likely to drop out.
Students from less affluent families struggle much more with integrating at uni compared with students from wealthier backgrounds, a new study has found.
Of the 6,500 UK students included in the study, only 33% from lower socioeconomic groups (D and E groups) felt they fit in well at uni, while 50% of those from the highest groups (A and B) felt well integrated.
Only 34% of group D and E students also said they had friends at uni who they socialised with frequently, compared with 48% of students from groups A and B.
The authors of the study think this trouble with integrating could also be to blame for why so many students drop out of uni in their first year.
Around 1 in 12 students leave uni during their first year, and over a third have thoughts about dropping out.
Previous studies have shown that those students who withdraw from their degrees admit feeling isolated, as well as being worried about not being able to achieve their future goals. These people were especially likely to consider leaving higher education in their first term or after the Christmas holidays.
Jenny Shaw, co-author of the Unite Students report, explained the connection:
Students from poorer backgrounds are more likely to come into a social environment where it’s just more difficult for them to feel that they fit in.
There’s an unfamiliarity to it that makes it difficult for them to integrate. And if you don’t feel integrated you’re more likely to drop out.”
Is there a solution?
The report's authors have called for a renewed understanding of mental health issues at university in order to offer more support to struggling students.
They also suggest that teachers, parents and friends encourage students to practice “resilience” at uni (or “the ability to recover from misfortune and to adjust easily to change”) but how exactly to put that into practice, it's not so clear!
Universities are also doing their part to try encourage more students from lower income backgrounds to apply, despite the rising costs involved with university.
When the government scrapped maintenance grants last year, Cambridge Uni introduced its own ‘studentship' grant in attempt to prevent disadvantaged students from being discouraged in applying.
Bristol University also started a scholarship program that allowed applicants from poorer backgrounds to be accepted on lower entry requirements for to encourage diversity at the uni.
But unfortunately they didn’t quite keep their promise, as it was revealed that a third of the places on the scholarship were given to students from private schools.
Do you think rising uni costs will put more people off applying for university? Make sure you know your facts from your fiction when it comes to tuition fees – your future could depend on it!