The Office for Fair Access closed at the end of 31 March 2018 and responsibility for higher education access regulation transferred to the Office for Students

HESA non-continuation data shows need for focus on student success

Commenting on the non-continuation performance indicators for higher education that have been published today by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, which show a drop in non-continuation rates for disadvantaged young people [note 1], Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said:

“Any drop in non-continuation rates is always good news but we should be cautious about celebrating too hard.

“I applaud the work that has gone into making this change happen, particularly at those institutions that have achieved above-benchmark progress.

“But the drop in non-continuation rates for young students from low-participation neighbourhoods is very small – just 0.1 percentage points – so I encourage universities and colleges to continue to focus on this area and build on progress.

“Meanwhile, among mature students, non-continuation rates continue to rise [note 2]. That is a problem not just for those individuals whose talent is not being realised, but for employers who need upskilled and reskilled staff.

“The new higher education regulator, the Office for Students, has pledged to pay close attention to student retention and success. It must follow through on this promise and really drive lasting improvement for all students.”


For further information contact Aislinn Keogh (Press and Communications Adviser) at OFFA on 0117 931 7171 or 

1. The non-continuation rate among young, full-time, first degree students from low participation neighbourhoods fell from 8.8 per cent in academic year 2014-15 to 8.7 per cent in 2015-16.

2. Non-continuation among full-time, first degree, mature students in England increased by 0.2 percentage points from 11.6 per cent in academic year 2014-15 to 11.8 per cent in 2015-16.