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Computer science degrees have the highest number of students dropping out, according to the latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa).
The most recent figures available from Hesa, which cover the year 2016/17, show that 9.8% of computer science undergraduates dropped out before completing their degree.
Business and administrative studies saw the second highest dropout rate, at 7.4%. Engineering and technology degrees were the equal third most dropped out of, along with creative and arts, and mass communications and documentation, all at 7.2%.
The high dropout rate, combined with relatively low numbers of students taking up computer science degrees, comes at a time when UK businesses are struggling to hire tech staff with the right skills and the government could soon throttle the supply of tech professionals from the European Union.
According to the most recent Hesa Higher education student statistics report, computer science as an undergraduate degree saw a gentle spike in demand between the 2015/16 and 2016/17 academic years. It rose by 4% in undergraduate enrolment numbers – the biggest percentage rise in all subjects. However, the absolute number, 1,175, was below that for business and administrative studies, 2,395.
Theknowledgeacedemy.com, which has done research on the back of the Hesa figures, revealed that 72% of students considered dropping out of university at some point, with the second year the most common point at which students dropped out, with 49% of the total leaving then.
When it comes to why people left degree courses across disciplines, the most common reason was that students didn’t feel they were getting enough for their money (53%), almost half (49%) said they left because they didn’t enjoy it, and 33% said it was too hard.
The problem for the computer industry in the UK goes deeper, with a recent study by the University of Roehampton revealing the number of hours spent teaching computing and ICT subjects in secondary schools dropped by 36% between 2012 and 2017.
At GCSE level, the number of hours spent teaching computing and ICT dropped by 47% over the same period, it revealed.
Read more about computer science in UK higher education
- Despite an IT skills gap, the UK’s recent computer science graduates are the largest group of unemployed graduates.
- Universities need to broaden teaching of computer science if the mismatch between graduate skills and business IT requirements grows.
- The number of prospective students seeking to study computer science has increased by 12.3% to 86,294, says UCAS.