MORE students than ever are walking away from university courses because of personal and academic pressures.
Wrexham’s Glyndr University topped the poll by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), which shows 1,000 freshers drop out every year in Wales.
It’s sparked concerns failures in the academic system could hinder rather than help revive the economy.
Business experts have warned during the recession universities have to do even more to ensure the country has a skilled workforce to meet the needs of a changing economy and not add to the dole queues across Wales.
CBI director general Richard Lambert said: “The class of 2009 will be leaving university and entering the labour market at the worst time for many years, when businesses are under pressure and unemployment is rising.
“The recession – and the resulting increase in competition for jobs – throws into sharper focus the imperative for graduates to have the attributes to succeed in the workplace.
“In addition to acquiring the strong academic and technical knowledge required for many roles, our graduates and postgraduates also need the employability skills and positive attitude that employers value in every new recruit.”
The figures show more than 1,150 students dropped out of Welsh universities in their first year in 2005-6, the latest figures available. This compared to 1,170 students the previous year.
Glyndr University, which changed its name last year from the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education, saw 16.1% or 60 students of its 360 full-time degree entrants leave before the end of their first year.
A spokesman said significant actions have been put in place in recent years to improve retention including attendance tracking and peer support.
In 2005-06 Glamorgan University had the highest number of dropouts – 275 which is the equivalent to 15.7%.
Peter Crofts, Glamorgan’s director of marketing and student recruitment, said: “Our students come from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds and as such have to juggle commitments such as part-time jobs, families and financial concerns.”
Chris Franks, Plaid Cymru AM for South Wales Central, said: “This indicates some students may have taken the wrong courses so all universities need to work hard to ensure the areas being studied suit the individual.
“Options to transfer to alternative courses should be explored.”