What are the next steps for students choosing to leave higher education early?

17th January, 2022 Read time: Two minutes

The number of students choosing to drop out of university has been increasing, with data found by the Press Association showing that, before the Coronavirus pandemic, two-thirds of universities reported a rise in student dropouts from the preceding five years.

Since the pandemic, the situation has only escalated, and experts predict that university drop-out rates will rise significantly in the coming year.  

While in the past there were many reasons a student may choose to leave their course early, new issues have emerged as a result of Covid-19 that students are not prepared to tackle. The first is the lack of student jobs available. Historically, students have relied on part-time jobs in bars and restaurants to help them pay their way through university, but due to the impact the pandemic has had on the job market, these jobs are now harder to find. For students who rely on income outside of their loan, being unable to find a part-time job can leave them unable to pay their rent, buy their food, or socialise with their friends.  

Alongside this, the fact that this year's intake of students did not have to go through the process of preparing for and taking A-Level exams means that they are out of practice when it comes to learning, especially the independent learning that is required at university level. This same problem is faced by college students who now face the step-up into A-Level without having had the discipline of preparing for GCSEs. With online learning still part of the equation, many students will find themselves struggling to keep up, and this is likely to lead to a higher drop-out rate.  

So, what should you do if you’re a student who is considering leaving higher education early, or you have already left and are unsure about what you should do next?  

If you are still enrolled at college or university, your first step should be to make sure you speak to someone and share your concerns. For students who are struggling with money, there may be a hardship fund available to help you. If you’re struggling with your learning, speaking to your tutor or mentor could help to alleviate some of your worries.  

If you still want to leave, there’s no need to panic. There are plenty of options available to you as you decide on your next steps.  

Apprenticeships or Traineeships 

Apprenticeships and traineeships allow you to earn money while learning on the job and getting first-hand experience.  They are a fantastic way to build up your skills and learn about an industry, and in many cases, a job offer is available at the end.  

There are a whole range of apprenticeships and traineeships available, from engineering to business administration to digital marketing, and more. 

Learn more about apprenticeships and take a look at the apprenticeships Futures offers on our website. 


If you’ve decided that further education isn’t for you and you’d rather jump right into the world of work, then employment may be the best route for you. If you’re aged between 16-24 and are receiving Universal Credit then you could be eligible for Kickstart – a scheme that offers paid 6-month placements to help you build your CV. Alternatively, you could apply for internships in industries that you are interested in to help you gain experience or apply directly for jobs. 


There are plenty of different course options if you’re still interested in gaining qualifications. At Futures, we offer free short courses in Business Administration, Customer Service, Health and Social Care, and more. There are also higher technical skills courses available that allow you to qualify in high-demand areas such as engineering, management, scientific fields and finance.  


If you feel you need to take some more time before deciding what your next steps are, volunteering is a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills, develop your confidence, and build your CV. Whether it’s giving a helping hand in your local charity shop or helping to tackle global issues such as food waste, volunteering is a great addition to both your CV and your life experience.  

If you have questions or need guidance after leaving higher education, Futures can help. Get in touch with us today to receive free information, support and advice.  

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