New figures released by the Student Loans Company show 39,758 undergraduates withdrew from a course in the academic year 2021-22, compared with 32,364 in 2020-21 - a year-on-year increase of 23 per cent.
The period was marked by continued disruption resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic as well as rising concerns about the impact of soaring inflation on student budgets. Northern Ireland saw the biggest percentage increase in student withdrawals, at 58 per cent; followed by Wales, at 42 cent; while in England the increase was 24 per cent.
Universities UK has appealed to the government to put in place measures to provide more support for students struggling to cope with the cost of living crisis. It says parents are being left to pick up the tab as government support for students is eroded to its lowest level in 7 years, with 38 per cent of students saying that they have had to rely on financial help from family and friends.