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School leaver destinations: HE still popular in 2014, but less “sticky”

June 23, 2016

The SG’s annual statistics on school leaver destinations were published yesterday. The information is collected via surveys in September and March and, among other things, provides  a snap shot of how well initial entry into HE holds up for this group after a few months.

Two figures are provided: an initial percentage going into HE and a “follow up” percentage, which catches those who are still there the following March. Very few HE courses can be completed in that time, so the drop between the two figures is likely to reflect those who started a course but decided not to complete it, for whatever reason.

A single “HE” destination figure is used, which combines entry into college to do an HNC/D with entry into university. The figures don’t allow anything to be said about either of those categories separately.  College entry will account for around one-third of the figure.

The figures (see table at foot of post) show:

  • A very similar percentage of school leavers went into some form of HE in 2014 as in the previous year (38.8% vs 39% the previous year)
  • But the percentage still there a few months later was noticeably lower (36.8% vs 38.2% last year)
  • The attrition rate from HE was therefore 5.4% (-1,106, more than double the equivalent number in the previous year), much higher than in the past couple of years, but very similar to 2010/11.
  • The absolute number initially entering some form of HE was the highest for any year shown (and probably for any year), as the total number of school leavers rose.  The number still there a few months later is a little below the previous year.

 

As the table below shows, there was a large rise in those moving into employment between the initial and follow-up surveys – over 3,000 more were in employment  by the time of the follow up.

FE numbers also see a (much larger) fall, so it’s likely that the figures reflect more young people leaving education for employment, for whatever reason – there will be push and pull.

The drop in FE is large enough to mean that the proportion still in either FE or HE by March was last lower in 2010/11, and the 9.3% drop in combined FE/HE participation between initial and follow-up is much the largest in the period covered.

So these figures show that interest in going into HE (and FE) held up in 2014, but that both were considerably less “sticky” than in the previous couple of years, for some reason.

You’d want to be incredibly wary of pinning any causal relationship against that. But simply as a change, it’s interesting to observe. The evidence that in 2014-15 young people were more likely to fall out of post-school education early, compared to the recent past, is therefore no more than a straw in the wind at the moment, but one we probably shouldn’t let blow past entirely unnoticed.

The table below is  Table 2  of the SG statistical release, with some additional calculations added – those are marked in bold.

2010/11 2011/12
Initial Follow Up2 Change Initial Follow Up2 Change
Destination Category
Higher Education (%) 36.3 34.4 -5.2% 37.8 36.1 -4.5%
Higher Education (nos) 19382 18320 -1062 18804 17909 -894
Further Education 27.1 24.6  -9.2% 26.6 24.8  -6.8%
HE & FE 63.4 59.0 -6.9% 64.4 60.9 -5.4%
Training 5.4 3.3 4.5 3.6
Employment 19.2 23.8 24.0% 19.8 23.9 20.7%
Voluntary Work 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.5
Activity Agreement1 0.5 0.6 0.9 0.7
Unemployed seeking 9.5 10.2 8.1 8.1
Unemployed Not Seeking 1.2 1.6 1.3 1.8
Unknown 0.3 0.9 0.4 0.6
Positive Destinations 89.0 87.2 90.1 89.6
Number of Leavers 53,394 53,255 49,745 49,610

 

2012/13 2013/14
Initial Follow Up2 Change Initial Follow Up2 Change
Destination Category
Higher Education (%) 37.1 36.9 -0.5% 39.0 38.2 -2.1%
Higher Education (nos) 19161 19009 -152 20052 19594 -458
Further Education 27.7 24.5  -11.6% 26.3 24.3  -7.6%
HE & FE 64.8 61.4 -5.2% 65.3 62.5 -4.3%
Training 4.8 3.1 4.0 2.5
Employment 20.4 24.6 20.6% 21.7 25.5 17.5%
Voluntary Work 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.4
Activity Agreement1 1.3 0.9 1.0 0.7
Unemployed seeking 6.9 7.6 6.2 6.5
Unemployed Not Seeking 1.1 1.6 1.1 1.5
Unknown 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
Positive Destinations 91.7 90.4 92.5 91.7
Number of Leavers 51,647 51,515 51,416 51,293

 

2014/15
Initial Follow Up2 Change
Destination Category
Higher Education (%) 38.8 36.8 -5.2%
Higher Education (nos) 20367 19260 -1106
Further Education 27.6 23.4 -15.2%
HE & FE 66.4 60.2 -9.3%
Training 3.8 2.7
Employment 21.4 27.8 29.9%
Voluntary Work 0.4 0.5
Activity Agreement1 0.9 0.7
Unemployed seeking 5.4 5.7
Unemployed Not Seeking 1.1 1.6
Unknown 0.5 0.6
Positive Destinations 93.0 92.0
Number of Leavers 52,491 52,337
1. In April 2011 the Scottish Government rolled out the use of Activity Agreements.
2. Leavers who moved outwith Scotland, were deceased or who had returned to school between the initial and follow up survey were excluded.
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