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10 times more students are dropping out because of their mental health

Only eight unis actually knew how many were leaving because of poor mental health

10 times more students are dropping out of uni because of their mental health, compared to just three years ago.

Across eight universities, there was a 1000 per cent increase in students permanently withdrawing for poor mental health since the 2015/16 academic year, a VICE investigation has found.

Only eight of the 70 universities VICE asked even knew how many students were dropping out for mental health reasons.

Most universities weren't able to provide the data. Some said they noted when people left for "health" or "personal reasons", whilst others said the information was too costly to extract from personal files.

For those that did, the figures are shocking. Brunel saw only one person leave for mental health reasons in 2015/16, but 38 in 2018/19 – a 3,700 per cent increase. At Bristol, 42 students dropping out in 2015/16 shot up to 93 in 2018/19.

It shines further light on the often patchy ways unis keep mental health records. Data collected by Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb showed that, whilst some universities make students wait over a month for mental health care, a third weren't able to provide information on average waiting times.

However, experts are split on whether unis should be keeping track of the figures on mental health dropouts.

"Whilst tracking student withdrawals due to mental health sounds helpful, there is a broad spectrum of mental health difficulties that can impact a students’ experience in a number of ways, so it may be hard to glean useful insights,” a spokesperson from HESA told VICE.

"Counselling service access numbers, which have gone up 20 percent year on year in many places, give a good indication of where services and support are needed, but drop out numbers would also add to that info and possibly help with planning to prevent issues reaching crisis point," Dr Dominique Thompson told VICE.

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