Subscribe to our free fortnightly newsletter and stay ahead with the latest news in HE

How to improve student retention

In today's competitive HE sector, it is vital that universities have clearly defined student retention strategies in place

Posted by Hannah Vickers | January 13, 2017 | Students

Universities and colleges work hard to attract students to their campuses each year in what is now a very competitive marketplace, but the really hard work is in retaining them. Therefore, it is vital that education providers have clearly defined student retention strategies and tools in place.

Students don’t set out to abandon their studies, which they often later regret or end up being left with unwanted financial implications, your student retention strategy is also important to them. When students are clear about where they can go for help and support in times of need, you will already be on your way to reducing your drop-out rate. Even better, if you engage with them ahead of them arriving and encourage them to seek out others who are starting at the same time, they will arrive with a greater sense of already belonging. 

Of course, there are many complex reasons why students choose to leave early; these can range from poor preparation for university life to changes in their personal circumstances. Often it can be the culmination of lots of smaller reasons leading to a ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ moment. So the more you know about each of your students and from day one work towards fostering close relationships between students and academic staff, the more likely you will be to spot problems and reduce the risk of a student leaving.

When students are clear about where they can go for help and support in times of need, you will already be on your way to reducing your drop-out rate 

Another critical area for good retention is student data. This, however, will often be held in different places, in different systems and with different departments being responsible for differing aspects of the data. To further help avoid those ‘straw-breaking’ moments, it is important that this data is easily available to all who need it, for example, via one dashboard. The data can then be easily accessed and interrogated by administrators and teaching staff alike to highlight potential at-risk students and put early interventions in place.

Significant early warnings of student disengagement are erratic attendance patterns or regularly handing in assignments late or badly completed, not using campus services such as the library or online learning service. These key signals are much easier to spot and early action taken, when staff have a good student/teacher relationship and have easy access to data. It is worth noting that having all data displayed via one dashboard does not mean scrapping existing systems, but simply integrating them into one place.

Other retention tools at education providers’ fingertips can include using mobile apps for student communications and moving from the more traditional paper-based registers to an automated system. 

It goes without saying that the main focus of any retention strategy is going to be around student learning and providing teaching excellence, but relationships and data will enhance this strategy and definitely has a role to play.

AIT’s cloud-based attendance and engagement monitoring solution offers an easy-to-use yet powerful system for educational institutions. If you would like to learn more about this then visit www.ait.co.uk/files/attendanceengagement.pdf or call them on 0113 273 0300

Subscribe to our free fortnightly newsletter and stay ahead with the latest news in HE

Related stories

Live, Learn and Grow

Designing for student engagement, wellbeing and success

Student lifestyle - trends from around the world

UK students admit loneliness

Mental illness on the increase in HE

Ulster leads major international research projects

Universities successfully finding new revenue streams

Students frustrated with lack of tech training

Can 'going digital' help tackle the application decline?

One step ahead

Market place - view all

Britcab

Need a portable cabin or modular building?

We sell and hire ...

Future Finance

We're pioneers in private student financing. We help students fina...

NEC

NEC Corporation is one of the world's leading providers of Internet...

Meru networks

Meru began with a vision that sooner rather than later most enterpr...

S&C Slatter

S&C Slatter have over 20 years experience as specialists in constru...

Marsh

Marsh is a global leader in insurance broking and risk management. ...