Computer science students most likely to drop out of university in the UK

Of all the university degrees offered in the UK, computer science courses experience a greater number of dropouts than any other

Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted the little chips of silicon and complex software powering our gaming PCs. In reality, immense effort and thought goes into building and programming every clock, and the rapid pace of change can be both inspiring and imposing. Perhaps that’s why, of all the university degrees offered in the UK, computer science courses experience a greater number of dropouts than any other.

Official figures from HESA, the Higher Education Statistics Agency, (via show that the percentage of dropouts for computer science courses hit 9.8% during the 2016/17 academic year. That’s considerably greater than business and administrative studies, which comes in at second place with 7.4%; and joint third place courses, creative arts and design, engineering and technology, and mass communications and documentation, which all saw 7.2% of students leave before reaching their graduation date.

Delving deeper, reached out to 1,238 students and former students, some of which decided to leave the aforementioned courses, to understand what factors were at play that influenced their decision most of all.

The results indicate that nearly three quarters, 72%, of those surveyed considered dropping out at some point, with the majority considering this during their second year in higher education. Only 22% of students would eventually make the decision to drop out.

For the most part, value for money ranked amongst the top reason for considering dropping out, account for 53%. Enjoyment of the subject matter also ranked highly at 49%, as did a lack of practical skill development at 41%. Meanwhile, 38% of students surveyed felt unable to keep up with the workload.

Of all those surveyed, 77% felt forced to continue their studies – often citing pressure from family or financial reasons.

This survey also touched on the critical issue of mental health, which can play a large part in such a decision. 57% of students were offered psychological support by their university, and only 42% believed psychological support was easily accessible. And with such a high dropout rate amongst computer science courses, among others, it remains crucial that support is offered when necessary and is openly available.

If you are feeling pressured in your course, need to discuss your prospects, or are considering dropping out, contact your university’s relevant department for student wellbeing. You may not change your decision, but it could alleviate any anxiety, offer an alternative path, or help you plan ahead.

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