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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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The interactive graphs on these tabs show data for full-time, first degree, UK domiciled entrants to higher education institutions (HEIs) in England between 2008-09 and 2014-15

They provide detailed breakdowns of:

  • non-continuation rates - the proportion of students starting a first degree but leaving higher education during or after their first year
  • continuation rates - the proportion of students who complete their degree courses
  • transfer rates - the proportion of students who leave their first degree course during the first year and start a different degree course.

Key findings


The overall non-continuation rate between year one and year two was 7.4 per cent for entrants in 2014-15. This has increased from 6.6 per cent in 2011-12.

Non-continuation rates are lowest for students with high levels of attainment prior to entering higher education. Only 2 per cent of students with the highest entry qualifications (AAAA and AAA) did not to continue in 2014-15, whereas 12 per cent of those entrants with the lowest number of entry tariff points did not continue.

Mature entrants (aged 21 or over) have higher non-continuation rates than young entrants. The difference between the rates has narrowed recently, but the rate for mature entrants, 12 per cent in 2014-15, remains more than five percentage points greater than that for young entrants.

Among ethnic groups, Black students have the highest rates of non-continuation at 10 per cent in 2014-15. This rate has declined over the past seven years, but it remains some way above that for other ethnic groups. Chinese students have the lowest non-continuation rate at 4 per cent in 2014-15.

There has been a sharp increase in the proportion of most disadvantaged students no longer in higher education recently compared to students from the most advantaged background. Since 2012-13, the non-continuation rate for POLAR quintile 1 students increased by 1.2 percentage points to 9 per cent 2014-15. The rate for quintile 5 students was 5 per cent in 2014-15.


The proportion of students transferring to a different institution at the end of year one was 2 per cent in 2014-15. This transfer rate has remained almost constant in recent years.

As with non-continuation, transfer rates are related to prior attainment and students with lower entry qualifications are more likely to switch to a different institution. Students with the lowest entry qualifications are roughly five times as likely to transfer as those with the highest.

The transfer rate for mature students has declined by more than a third since 2008-09. In 2014-15 it was 1.8 per cent compared with 2.5 per cent for young students.

White students have the lowest rate of transfer of any ethnic group. It declined to 2 per cent in 2014-15. The highest transfer rate has consistently been for Black students and this was 5 per cent in 2014-15.

Contact us

For any queries about the graphs or any feedback, please contact Rebecca Finlayson in the Analysis for Policy team, email

Page last updated 12 July 2017