The non-continuation rate for full-time first degree students at Glasgow Caledonian University has reached a record low and is now below the Scottish average.
The figure for students not returning for second year is 6.8%, the best rate the University has ever achieved, down 2.1% from last year and below the national average of 7.9%, according to new data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
Figures show GCU, one of only two universities to meet the Scottish Government’s widening-access target, has a projected degree completion rate of 80.9%, a record high.
GCU is a sector leader in widening access to higher education with initiatives such as the Caledonian Club, which works with children as young as three, through primary and secondary schools in Glasgow.
It was also the first university in Scotland to set up an Advanced Higher Hub, which delivers classes on campus for pupils from 26 schools across the city.
More than 20% of first-time Scottish students at GCU come from 20% of the most disadvantaged backgrounds, the benchmark the Scottish Government has asked the sector to achieve by 2030.
Professor Pamela Gillies, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of GCU, said: "Glasgow Caledonian University is proud to lead the way in widening access to higher education in Scotland. With the lowest drop out rate of students in their first year of study with us, GCU staff know how to nurture and support our talented students from challenging backgrounds.
"The University also demonstrates its commitment to encouraging students on their student journey to degree completion with an 81% successful completion rate, which is above the sector average.
"Through initiatives such as the Caledonian Club, the Advanced Higher Hub and College Connect, the University continues to raise aspirations and engage with our communities, helping to inspire nursery, primary and secondary school pupils and FE students and their families and remove barriers to higher education."
HESA collects, process and publish data about higher education in the UK and is the trusted source of data and analysis in the sector.
It is the first time in 19 years that the retention rate in Scotland is better than the UK average.
Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, said: “We will take heart from today’s figures but we know the work to improve retention will continue at all our universities with continued investment in student support, creating a welcoming campus for students of all ages, background and experience.”