The price of a University drop-out 4: Time for some numbers.

In the last post, we worked out the cost weight of a non-completion when it comes to public-funding, and the different variable factors that can send this cost sky-rocketing.

But, it’s key to look at the effect on different institutions, and whether certain types of institution with varied reputations suffer high losses because of, for example, the nature of the degree they offer or  the level of student they take on.

(With Excel data) I took a closer look at my area: Birmingham. I took into acccount Birmingham University (22), Aston University (25) and Birmingham City University (66), three different sized universities with varying ranks in the same city.

The key differences are entry standards, for which Birmingham City University rank far lower which would suggest a higher non-completion rate, and the price band of the degrees, which, in a University with more science-based courses (like a red-brick, like Birmingham) will be higher.

This is evidenced in the yearly non-completion figures for all West Midlands institutions;

With 25% of all HEFCE funded students at Birmingham City University non-completing in 09/10, the suggestion is that low entry standards may make for students that are less likely to commit to completing, especially when you compare that figure with the relatively low 6.5% and 6% for Aston and Birmingham Universities respectively.

However, total non-completion rates are only one factor when considering the total cost to a university. This is exemplified when you look at the total loss to each university and the average cost of each student non-completion;

    Institution Name                          Total Cost               Cost per non-completion
    Aston University                                 £1,409,177.13             £3671.91
    University of Birmingham               £4,307,697.29           £4025.89
    Birmingham City University           £6,175,285.39            £2159.19

As you can tell, the difference between the total cost is much less frightening than the percentage loss, because the average cost for each non-completion is dramatically lower for Birmingham City University, highlighting the risks involved with running massively expensive (Band A and Band B) courses.

The data takes into account HEFCE decided partial completion premiums and the reduced funding delivered for each masters and post-graduate student (because they pay entirely for their course), and is, basically, quite complicated.

The data I compiled (in slightly raw, Google doc form) was drawn from HEFCE-released data from 10/11, and is free for anyone to play with, so if you want to see how your university fares for non-completion rates, take a look.

So what can we take from this? I think the most interesting discussions will be for the future, and how the whole system will dramatically change why tuition fees sky-rocket.

Will the HEFCE deliver the same amount of funding? The amount they fund is based entirely around how much a degree costs to teach (as explained in the previous post), so this figure can’t change just because the tuition fee is increased. How does the 15% decreased in University applications from UK students skew the data for the future?

But, more on this in a future post…

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