How can Universities Reduce Student Dropout Rates?

A deep exploration into UK University dropout rates has found that institutions could be losing as much as £1.6bn a year in student fees due to student dropouts.

10 May 2022

Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows that in the academic year 2020-2021, UK Universities enrolled a combined 2.75 million students. With reports showing an average dropout rate of 6.4%, up to 176,119 students will have potentially dropped out last academic year.

Student fees in the UK notably rose to £9,000 a year from the 2012-13 academic year onwards and then to £9,250 in the autumn of 2016. With the vast majority of institutes in England charging £9,250 and Welsh universities charging similarly at £9,000 a year, this dropout rate is actually costing universities more now than ever before – despite the dropout rate actually decreasing since the late 2000’s.

With competition to attract domestic students always high, losing students during the student lifecycle is just another blow to UK HE institutes who have seen their international student numbers from the EU decrease in half since Brexit.

One solution to help reduce this dropout rate is to ensure that the student experience universities are providing is simpler for students, enabling them to get their queries answered and the support they need faster. However, this needs to happen throughout the student lifecycle with students engaged whilst they are a prospect during their time enrolled as a student, and alumni.

By ensuring that students receive relevant information and support that they need, at the times that they most need it, universities can provide a positive experience to both recruit and retain students.  Providing personalised communications  via a number of various channels, such as Email, SMS, WhatsApp and across social media, universities can communicate with students faster and clearer, ensuring that the communications they send are relevant, contributing to keeping students happy with their university experience.

At ANS Group we have recently worked with the University of Surrey to utilise Microsoft Dynamics 365 for enquiry management. By using the Customer Service application in D365 to ensure that there was a central location for all enquiries to be gathered, assigned and answered, Surrey have found that the simplification of their processes has created a greater customer experience for their students. They have also made effective use of Microsoft’s Omnichannel functionality to communicate in various formats with students to ensure that there is no query left unanswered.

To understand more on how that has changed their student experience for the better, see the case study below.