Official statistic

Key performance measure 3

Gap in non-continuation between most and least represented groups 

3.7 percentage points

For entrants in 2019-20, there was a difference of 3.7 percentage points between the non-continuation rates of the most and the least represented groups.


Learn more about the target for this measure

What does this show?

KPM 3 shows the percentage point gap between the non-continuation rate of POLAR4 quintile 5 (most represented) students and POLAR4 quintile 1 (least represented) students.

To benefit from higher education, students need to have completed their studies or made substantial progress through them.

Data shows that students from the least represented groups are less likely to do so. This measure compares the rate of non-continuation for these groups. We are focusing our efforts here because for many students, it is a necessary condition for other benefits of higher education.

The gap in non-continuation changed little between 2014-15 and 2018-19 but dropped by 0.8 percentage points between 2018-19 and 2019-20.

While the gap in non-continuation rates is 0.8pp lower for 2019-20 entrants (3.7pp) compared with 2018-19 entrants (4.5pp) it should noted that these two entry cohorts will have had different experiences of higher education as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While the majority of 2019-20 entrants will have experienced an uninterrupted first half of the year, the second half of the year will have seen a great deal of change. For different individuals, changes may have included a move to online learning, changes in support and differences in assessment practices. The effects of these changes may have varied for different groups of students, which may in part have contributed to the reduction in the size of the gap in non-continuation rates between 2018-19 and 2019-20. 

This reduction in the size of the gap in non-continuation rates has not led to substantial reduction in the ratio of the quintile 1 non-continuation rate to the quintile 5 non-continuation rate. For 2019-20 entrants, quintile 1 students were 1.60 times more likely to not continue their studies than quintile 5 students. This value is slightly lower than the ratio of 1.65 for 2018-19 entrants. The ratio has been fairly consistent since 2010-11, ranging from 1.59 times to 1.75 times.

Gap between POLAR4 quintile 1 and quintile 5 as a ratio

A ratio of 1 would mean quintile 1 and quintile 5 students are equally likely to not continue their studies.

Further information

The measure uses the rate of non-continuation among 18-30 year olds between the first and second year of their study by POLAR quintile.

  • Frequency: Annual
  • Population: UK-domiciled entrants (aged 18-30) to full-time (or apprenticeship) undergraduate courses at English higher education providers
  • Data Sources: Individual student data from HESA, the Individualised Learner Record from ESFA, and the POLAR classification of postcodes
  • Available: March. 

The values for KPM 3 differ slightly to the continuation differences found in our access and participation data dashboard.

This is because KPM 3 includes students aged 30 and under whereas the POLAR4 data in the access and participation data dashboard is limited to young students (those aged under 21 when they began their studies).

The population of KPM 3 also includes students aged 21-30 to allow alignment with the KPM 1 and KPM 2 populations.

Target: To eliminate the unexplained gap in non-continuation between most and least represented groups by 2024-25, and to eliminate the absolute gap (the gap caused by both structural and unexplained factors) by 2030-31.

Updates

Update to include academic year 2019-20.

Update to include data for academic year 2018-19 and small change to population used to derive measure.

Apprenticeship students are now included in the population to better align with our access and participation data dashboard definitions.

Update to include data for academic year 2017-18 and change to population used to derive measure:

  • age defined based on age at 31 August rather than 30 September
  • the level of study definition was changed to align with our access and participation data dashboard definitions.

Update to include data for academic year 2016-17 and change to population used to derive measure (change from England domiciled entrants to UK domiciled entrants).

Correction of an error that prevented the population from being restricted to 18-30 year olds as required by the definition of the KPM. It was originally published based on the non-continuation rates among 18-20 year olds.

Feedback

If you have any queries about the statistics published as KPM 3, please contact William Rimington at [email protected].

If you have any queries about our overall approach or on individual measures, please contact Josh Fleming at [email protected].

Published 13 September 2018
Last updated 24 March 2022
24 March 2022
Annual update to include 2019-20 data and addition of ratio chart.
11 March 2021
Updated with annual data and change in population
15 February 2021
Availability changed to March
09 September 2020
Information on the target for this measure
12 May 2020
Link to '2019 to 2020 changes to core algorithms' document added to the data files
02 April 2020
Annual update and change in population
21 March 2019
Annual update and change to population used
16 November 2018
Correction of an error

Describe your experience of using this website

Improve experience feedback
* *

Thank you for your feedback