Date lodged: 23 September 2016
To ask the Scottish Government what action it took over summer 2016 to help reduce the drop-out rate of students (a) at the University of the West of Scotland and (b) in other institutions.
Answered by: Shirley-Anne Somerville 7 October 2016
In addition, in August 2016, the SFC published its Gender Action Plan, which has as one of its strategic aims to “enhance the retention and completion at a subject level where there is a gap by gender”.
For academic year 2016-17, the SFC has also strengthened and refocused Regional Coherence funding, renaming it the Widening Access and Retention Fund (WARF). This £15 million fund, is allocated to eight higher education institutions, who are expected to continue to demonstrate and maintain a significant commitment to the support, retention and successful outcomes of students from the most disadvantaged and deprived backgrounds. The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) was allocated £3.6 million from the WARF for 2016-17. UWS has implemented a range of initiatives to improve retention rates with help from this funding. Retention rates at UWS have improved in recent years, increasing from 70.6% in 2010-11 to 84.5% in 2014-15.
The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, published in September 2016, set out measures aimed at improving retention rates across the sector. The Scottish Government has continued to work with universities and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to embed and improve progress made in recent years. This includes the SFC developing refreshed guidance for university Outcome Agreements, which include measures to improve retention.