How to Minimise Student Dropout Rates

How to Minimise Student Dropout Rates

At the moment, the UK has one of the best university retention rates in the world. 71% of the UK’s students complete their courses, compared to 49% in the US and 31% in Australia. However, with increased fees, a volatile job market, and the fact that few institutions have seen improvements in retention rates since 2012, the UK may not hold that title forever.

With the UK student accommodation industry predicted to grow by 17% in 2017 alone, landlords and property investors can’t risk a decrease in retention rates, as dropouts are costly both to universities and accommodation providers.

From understanding the root of the problem to offering more support to struggling students, there are ways in which both universities and accommodation providers can work to improve student retention rates.

Establishing the problem

Although the UK does have high retention rates, there are huge variations from institution to institution. As well as this, data from 2013-2014 found that those from low-income backgrounds and those over the age of 30 are more likely to drop out of university before finishing their courses.

Universities and student accommodation providers should strive to offer extra support to students from these demographics. This can be through support with balancing a part-time job with university life, an onsite team to offer guidance and tips on living away from home, or an online resource where students can share their stories and feel more at home.

Making students feel as comfortable as possible

The majority of dropouts happen in a student’s first year. Moving away from home, having to support themselves financially, and managing their workload can all have a significant effect on their mental health.

Making students feel comfortable in their accommodation plays a big part in minimising dropout rates. Spaces, aesthetics, colour, and lighting have a very real effect on mental and physical health, and it’s up to accommodation providers to create the right kind of environments to encourage optimum well-being.

This can be done by installing lighting devices, choosing the right colour for the right area, and utilising the spaced offered. Learn more about how these simple changes can impact your tenants’ wellbeing in our guide to the Psychology of Design.

Making sure students know exactly what they’re getting into

 Research from What Works – a student retention initiative that has been studyinghow to increase retention rates for a decade – has shown that making sure students understand what is expected of them is one of the best ways to improve retention rates.

Universities need to make an effort to stop unnecessary anxiety around assignments and tasks by ensuring that briefs are clear, and by ensuring that students have lots of opportunities to discuss their assignments and ask clarifying questions.

Student accommodation providers can also help with making things clearer for students. Creating something as simple as a timeline or calendar with important dates (such as moving-in dates, inspections, term times, and moving-out dates) will make things easier for students and will cut down on the anxiety that living away from home can cause.


For many students, university will be the first time in their life that they have not had a strict structure and routine offered by their schools and colleges. And some students, like mature students and those from low-income backgrounds, may have to take on part-time jobs to help fund their studies.

This can be quite overwhelming for a large number of people. Loneliness and a lack of support can lead to high dropout rates, especially in their first year.

Student accommodation providers can help to combat this by creating social areas where people can come together, arranging social events to help students meet like minded people, and having student reps or onsite support officers to lend a helping hand when needed.

Good accommodation = lower dropout rates

 Student accommodation plays a vital part in making students feel calm, settled, and happy – which in turn helps with retention rates. Even a 10% dropout rate can have a significant financial impact both on universities and accommodation providers, so it’s worth taking measures to ensure that your students are as happy, comfortable, and supported as possible.

For more information about supporting your students, advice on making the most of the space you have, and more, take a look at our blog page.

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