For many students, the experience they have in their first year or even first semester of university can have a considerable impact on their decision to continue with a degree, change degrees or drop out entirely. In a survey of 1200 Australian students who had withdrawn from, deferred or changed their university enrolment 48% of students were in their first year of study and a further 34% were in their second year.
Women were significantly overrepresented in the group of students who withdrew from study completely (59%) as well as those who changed degrees (67%). Women were also far more likely to cite course difficulty as their main reason for withdrawal. Interestingly, female students who changed degrees most often cited lack of enjoyment, concern about career prospects and preference for teaching styles as their reasons for change.
Although universities and faculties have limited control over the personal circumstances of students who drop out or change degrees, they have a direct ability to impact the institutional/course factors in this equation.