Higher Education

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 209–225

Undergraduate non-completion rates: Differences between UK universities


  • Jill Johnes
    • Department of EconomicsUniversity of Lancaster
  • Jim Taylor
    • Department of EconomicsUniversity of Lancaster

DOI: 10.1007/BF00139181

Cite this article as:
Johnes, J. & Taylor, J. High Educ (1989) 18: 209. doi:10.1007/BF00139181


The non-completion rate of university students differs substantially between UK universities. This paper provides estimates of non-completion rates for the 1979 and 1980 entry cohorts into each university and suggests a number of reasons which may have contributed to these inter-university differences. Statistical analysis indicates that a large proportion of the inter-university variation in the non-completion rate can be explained by three main factors: the scholastic ability of each university's new entrants (as reflected by A-level score), the subject mix of each university, and the proportion of each university's students accommodated in a hall of residence. The main conclusion is that inter-university comparisons in the non-completion rate are of little value unless account is taken of differences in the scholastic ability of each university's intake of students.

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989