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

OFFA comment on HESA non-continuation performance indicators

Commenting on today’s performance indicators for non-continuation in higher education 2015-16 released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, which show that non-continuation rates have risen for the second year in a row, Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said:

“After several years of progress in improving student retention, it is very disappointing to see that this has not continued. I am particularly concerned that the non-continuation rates for young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds have risen faster than for other groups [note 1].

“People from disadvantaged backgrounds often overcome huge challenges to get into higher education. But access is only truly meaningful if students also complete their course. So it is crucial that universities and colleges are working across the whole student lifecycle to support all students, throughout their studies and as they prepare for work or postgraduate study.

“Universities and colleges are now preparing their next access agreements for approval, and I will expect to see them working harder than ever to understand and address the reasons for this decline.” 


For further information contact Aislinn Keogh (Press and Communications Adviser) at OFFA on 0117 931 7173 or


  1. The non-continuation rate for young entrants from POLAR3 quintile 1 areas increased from 8.2 to 8.8 per cent in the 2014-15 academic year.