Posted 5 September 2014
“We work extremely hard to make sure that our students feel welcome and that they quickly become part of the Harper Adams community."
Harper Adams University has been revealed as the fourth most welcoming university in the UK, as part of research into student dropout rates.
Analysis by research consultancy YouthSight showed that universities which fail to make a good first impression on students are more likely to suffer higher dropout rates than those that make undergraduates feel welcome in the first month.
The Higher Expectations Survey conducted by YouthSight concludes that some elite institutions are in danger of seeing more youngsters failing to complete their courses because they are not meeting student expectations.
The consultancy has not named institutions deemed the most unwelcoming, but has published a list of the top-10 universities that register the highest proportion of 'excellent' early experiences:
1. University of Cambridge
2. University of Oxford
3. University of St Andrews
4. Harper Adams University
5. University of Durham
6. University of Bath
7. University of Wales, Trinity Saint David
8. Norwich University of the Arts
9. Falmouth University
10. Loughborough University
Universities with the most dissatisfied undergraduates, only a quarter of whom rate their early experience as “excellent”, have non-completion rates of more than 11% on average. The drop-out rate falls to 2.5% in institutions where approximately two-thirds of students say the university has lived up to their expectations. The average drop-out rate across all institutions is 6.7%.
Dr David Llewellyn, Vice-Chancellor of Harper Adams University, said: “We work extremely hard to make sure that our students feel welcome and that they quickly become part of the Harper Adams community. When coupled with consistently high employment rates of over 96%, our students are not only getting a high quality academic experience but our graduates are also getting a great start to their future career. The survey shows that universities of all types and sizes can excel in supporting their students, and we are delighted to be recognised, in this respect, as one of the leading institutions in the UK higher education sector.”
James MacGregor, Director of Higher Education Research at YouthSight, said: "Perceptions of excellence are not simply a proxy for institutional reputation. Usually well-regarded universities that do not make the effort with new undergraduates are unnecessarily flirting with higher non-completion rates later."
Most students who rate their university as “excellent” cited the quality of teaching and their course as the most important factors. Facilities and location also score highly but more significant than either for new students is the "welcoming or friendly atmosphere", YouthSight said.
Mr MacGregor added: "Our analysis showed that the correlation between an 'excellent' experience and low drop-out is really related to what the university is doing locally and not just to differences between universities that they can't do anything about such as subject mix or location."
Research was carried out by YouthSight amongst 10,358 new students in the UK during the period 14th November 2013 and 7th March 2014. Higher Expectations is the most comprehensive survey of new students in the UK.