29/03/2012 09:31 BST | Updated 30/07/2012 11:45 BST

More Students Dropping Out Of University, Claims HESA Research

The number of students dropping out after their first year at university has increased, particularly among those from disadvantaged areas, figures reveal.

The study, released on Thursday, shows almost one in 10 students (9.9%) from poorer neighbourhoods with the lowest levels of participation at university dropped out - an increase from 8.7% in the 2008-9 academic year.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “Over the past five years, in England alone, over £1bn has been spent on measures to improve student retention in higher education. Sadly, today’s figures show that too many students, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, are still failing to complete their studies.

“We have real concerns that the new funding regime with hugely increased tuition fees may force some students onto courses that, although cheaper, do not best suit their abilities. That scenario is likely to lead to further dropouts, which will not benefit the student, the university or society.”

The figures, released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show the number of students who dropped out after starting university in 2009-10 - the most recent figures - rose to 7.2%, up from 6.5% the previous year.

An investigation conducted by a member of the 'Help me investigate' team into the price of university dropouts revealed a quarter of all students funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) did not complete their course in 2009-10.

"The suggestion is that low entry standards may make for students that are less likely to commit to completing," the author of the study comments.

In 2008, fears were voiced after it was revealed one in seven students dropped out if university, despite a £1bn investment to try and keep young people in higher education.

Now, with higher tuition fees looming, these concerns are only likely to grow over the future of young people's education.

But, in order to allay any fears you may have, we've put together a gallery of famous faces who still made it - without a degree.