University Data has revealed that as many as 1 in 9 postgraduate students leave their courses incomplete.
35 per cent of postgraduate students in the Physics department and 32 per cent of Chemistry postgraduates failed to complete their course last academic year.
No department managed to pass all its postgraduate students.
The Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) is currently without an Academic Affairs Officer, as the incumbent Taha Rajab, has resigned, along with Tuyuan Cheng, Finance and Community Officer.
Ted Brown, Chair of Council for the GSA, said, “Postgraduate completion rate is certainly an issue the University needs to look into. ..Some students may simply be unable to live up to the academic standard the University demands. The allure of the job market in the face of rising costs is certainly a factor…All in all it’s a complex and difficult issue facing universities across the country, and one that won’t disappear any time soon. ”
Graeme Osborn, YUSU academic officer, said, “We need comprehensive research into this issue to understand the reasons for students leaving their course so that we can give them the best possible chance of completion.”
Of the 2063 postgraduates last year, 285 did not complete their course. The figures include drop-outs, as well as failures due to low grades.
However, the undergraduate completion rate is higher in every single department, with 18 out of 25 of them achieving 100 per cent undergraduate pass rates, and the remaining seven hitting either 98 or 99 per cent. Less than 0.5 per cent of undergraduates left their courses incomplete. Postgraduate course fees can reach up to £9000 each year, but unlike undergraduate degrees, most are not covered by a low cost loan. Rising accommodation and food prices in York compound the financial pressure on postgraduate students.
Kallum Taylor, YUSU President, said, “Quite simply, more needs to be done for postgraduates in the way of immediate support for their retention and peace of mind whilst studying. The figures for York are concerning.”
“Of course there’ll no doubt be all kinds of individual circumstances aiding these figures, however, lack of support for PGs has been running disturbingly high on the agenda for too long now, across the whole nation.”
Meanwhile, 3 in 10 Health Sciences postgraduates fail to complete their course, and half of all postgraduate courses have completion rates below 90 per cent. Last year, the completion rate was almost 13 percentage points lower for postgraduates.
The worst three departments for postgraduate course completion rate were Physics, Chemistry, and Health Sciences. The top three were Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, History, and Theatre, Film, and Television.
The Physics postgraduate completion rate was a considerable 33 percentage points lower than its undergraduate equivalent, with Chemistry almost as bad at 32 points below the undergraduates.