Is it a flagship fail for the fees-free scheme? Or just natural attrition?
13,000 first time uni students dropped or failed at least one of their courses last year, costing the taxpayer up to $40 million.
But Tertiary Education Union president Michael Gilchrist told Kate Hawkesby that drop out rate is normal.
"It doesn't sound particularly high to us. It seems to us to be a positive story."
He says that students often have to find their feet in the first year of tertiary study, which leads to a lot of withdrawals in that period.
Gilchrist says although the system could be improved, the focus should be on keeping debt down.
"The debt monster has been a real factor in students lives for a long time now, and it casts a long shadow."