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Chapter 4: Looking Deeper Part 1 - Consideration of withdrawal


A comprehensive review of was carried out in 2021 ahead of fieldwork 2022. One of the outcomes of the review was the introduction of the question on withdrawal as a standard question for all institutions for the first time in 2022:

“Have you ever seriously considered withdrawing from your degree programme?”

Photograph of attendees at the Practitioners Forum 2022

This is the first time that this data has been collected across all institutions. Respondents were asked to select all that apply from the following list:

  • No, I have not seriously considered withdrawing
  • Yes, for financial reasons
  • Yes, for personal or family reasons
  • Yes, for health reasons
  • Yes, for employment reasons
  • Yes, to transfer to another institution
  • Other (please state)

At present, non-progression rates are published annually by the Higher Education Authority. These statistics are vital, but qualitative information on the reasons for withdrawal is limited. This chapter seeks to provide further insight into the reasons respondents consider withdrawing from their programme, from which potential reasons for actual withdrawal could be extrapolated.

Importantly, there are fundamental differences between the HEA's data on non-progression and the data on consideration of withdrawal. Most notably, non-progression relates to actual non-progression rates – first year undergraduate respondents not progressing into their second year of studies. For, the question relates to whether these respondents have seriously considered withdrawing. In other words, they have considered withdrawing, but have not withdrawn from their studies, as they were still present.

Nonetheless, it is hoped that the findings of this chapter prove beneficial for HEIs, policymakers, and respondents in understanding the potential barriers for respondents in progressing in their studies.