Official statistic: Key performance measure 3

Gap in non-continuation between most and least represented groups 

4.4 percentage points

In 2017-18, there was a difference of 4.4 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?

To benefit from higher education, students often 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 has seen very little change since 2014-15.

Get the data

About the measure

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 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. 

Changes to the measure

In order to further align with the student and graduate populations considered in other measures published by the Office for Students and the access and participation dashboard, we have updated this KPM to align with the changes made to the population of students included in the dashboard. See '2019 to 2020 changes to core algorithms', available from our institutional performance measures page, for full details.

A summary of the changes made to KPM 3 in each release can be found in the data file associated with this release.


First publication.

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.

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).

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

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

About the target for this measure

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.


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 15 February 2021
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