The top 10 reasons students consider leaving their degree, and the support services that can help

Overview: There are many barriers that can get in the way of completing a degree. Support services exist to help address these barriers and help students stay connected to their studies. In this post we look at the top 10 reasons students consider leaving their degree and what support options exist for those challenges. Reading time ~ 5 minutes.

A while back I found the QILT surveys.

“QILT are a suite of government endorsed surveys for higher education, across the student life cycle from commencement to employment. QILT makes available robust, nationally consistent performance data for Australian higher education, helping drive quality improvement.”

These surveys can be useful for those of us working in the university sector to identify areas for improvement.

One of the data items from the Student Experiences Survey that caught my attention was “selected reasons for considering early departure among university undergraduate students, 2019 and 2020“. This is an important data item for those of us who work in student support services, because it provides insights into the kinds of challenges students experience that get in the way of their degree. Knowing this can help us better promote the programs we offer.

So what were the top 10?

Here they are for 2019 and 2020 (last two years of the survey). Take note that these are the top 10 reasons across the higher education sector, not specific to Flinders.

The ‘per cent’ refers to those students who had first indicated they had ‘seriously considered leaving higher education’, who then selected from a list of 30 reasons the key factors driving their decision.

2019: Per cent considering departure 2020: Per cent considering departure
Health or stress 47 50
Study / life balance 31 28
Workload difficulties 26 28
Expectations not met 22 27
Personal reasons 25 25
Need a break 24 23
Financial difficulties 23 22
Need to do paid work 27 22
Academic support 18 22
Boredom/lack of interest 21 20

As you can see ‘health or stress‘ is the most common reason students consider leaving their degree, implicated in 1/2 of those seriously considering leaving their degree.

What I thought I’d do is take these top 10 and identify who you should talk to if any one of them is an issue for you. The hope is, if you chat to someone about the challenge, you may be able to find a solution that allows you to keep doing your university degree.

Health or stress – book a GP appointment, chat to a counsellor or talk to a disability advisor about studying with an illness. Consider joining the gym.

Study / life balance – see whether any of the programs at Oasis are helpful, particularly those with a social component (e.g. Flinders Mates) or someone to chat to (e.g. chaplains).

Workload difficulties – pick your most challenging topic and book a time to see the topic coordinator – ask for some advice about staying on top of workload. Enhance your academic skills through a program with Student Learning Support Services (SLSS). Tackle procrastination by doing the Studyology program.

Expectations not met – Speak to Careers or find the course advisor in your college:

Personal reasons – speak to one of our counsellors.

Need a break – talk to Flinders Connect about enrolment or locate the course advisor within your college (see list above).

Financial difficulties – speak to the financial support team at FUSA.

Need to do paid work – join up to CareerHub to access their resources, including job opportunities.

Academic support – consider accessing some of the learning support services.

Boredom/ lack of interest – find a club to join.


For a full list of support services, remember the Support and Services Directory

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Flinders services and programs Well-being at Flinders

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