An estimated 33,000 first-year undergraduate university students will drop out of their courses in 2015 when they face health problems, stress or financial hardship, says a new report.
The report, published by Think Education and based on data from the Department of Education, also showed that more than 50 per cent of all Australians wished they had spent more time thinking about their choice of career and tertiary study.
James Cook University Deputy Vice Chancellor and expert in the first-year tertiary experience, Professor Sally Kift, said there are a range of reasons for students deciding to abandon study.
“Some of the biggest reasons we see are to do with health or stress, study life balance, financial difficulties and workload struggles,” Professor Kift told The New Daily.
“There is a complex inter-relationship regarding factors that lead to course dissatisfaction.”
To help alleviate the shock of transitioning to university, Professor Kift said there were on-campus programs to help new students cope with university life.
But she said students could also work “to understand what it is like to be a professional in the discipline and know that it is completely normal to have some doubts about their course or career choice”.
In 2014, 244,638 students started an undergraduate degree in Australia. Data from the Department of Education shows that in 2013, 20 per cent of first-year students dropped out, changed course, or switched universities.
In addition to the study, a recent survey of more than 1000 Australians found that more than two-thirds of people aged between 25 and 29 think that they should have spent more time considering the study or career choice they made after high school.
James Bashford, Welfare Officer for the University of Melbourne Student Union, whose job it is to welcome first-year students to the campus, said applicants need to more carefully consider their choice of course.
“When students have such a busy time in the final year of high school it is inevitable that they won’t make perfect decisions for what to do afterwards,” Mr Bashford said.
“There are also real issues around students who have to travel long distances to the campus or move into accommodation away from family and friends … these can then be made worse if they don’t like the course they’ve chosen and aren’t managing other factors like health, study time and lifestyle choices.”
Mr Bashford added that there can also be problems with students staying in courses they don’t like because of a fear of extending time at university and adding to their education bill.