Alliance Youth Chair Stephen Martin today called for urgent action to combat the upward trend of first year students dropping out of university. The Lagan Valley representative was responding to Higher Education Statistics Agency figures, which showed that 15.2% of University of Ulster students and 7.5% of Queen’s students do not make it into their second year of study.
Stephen Martin commented: “Young people work hard to achieve the necessary A-level grades to attend university. Once they arrive, many find it difficult to adjust to the different environment that university life brings, with much more independent learning which some students are not necessarily prepared for coming from school.
“While both Queen’s and the University of Ulster both have good schemes in place to ease the transition, there are still significant issues in relation to student retention.
“Students should be made more aware of what university life entails before they arrive. Emphasis must be placed on more comprehensive outreach by our universities to highlight to students what is expected of them. The first few months are crucial and are not always easy for students. It is vitally important that there are solid ‘student at risk’ structures in place to prevent drop-out situations arising.”
Stephen concluded: “We are weeks away from A-level results being released and the beginning of the new university year. We can not stand by and waste the potential of a young student who has worked diligently to gain a university place only to find when they arrive they can not cope. Poor student retention is bad not just for our students and universities but for the future success of Northern Ireland’s economy.”