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Improving Student Retention 2018: Conference Review

Posted on 21/06/2018 by Chenda McManus


Last week I attended the Universities UK Improving Student Retention Conference 2018. There have been important changes to the Higher Education landscape recently, and it was great hearing from policy makers and experts in retention surrounding the HE sector. I have summarised a couple of key points from the conference below.

Which of the points affect your HE institution, do you have the resources to fix these issues?

Dropout rates amongst university students who give up their studies within 12 months have gone up for the third year in a row – with this there is an increased focus on student retention. Other statistics include:

  • 6.4% of full-time entrants fail to continue after a year
  • Non-continuation has increased in recent years for young undergraduates
  • Non-continuation is now highest in England - Scottish institutions have tended to have the highest
  • Non-continuation is higher for mature students (11.6%) and part-time students (34.2%)

Students who are at risk of withdrawing from their education may need support from different teams during their studies and may present various and complex circumstances. Every university wants their students to succeed and enjoy their education – there are some ways a whole institution approach can engage students and support them throughout their time at university.

Improving the needs of specific students:

  • Employability support, 1:1 career consultations and students having access to internship programmes
  • Thorough welcome inductions, ensuring students know services such as wellbeing are available to them

Student engagement and belonging:

  • Ensuring students feel as if they ‘belong’, working closely with Student Union and student representatives to ensure students feel they have ‘buddy support’

The institution working together:

  • Ensuring all staff are able to identify early mental health warning signs
  • Ensuring there is available face to face contact with wellbeing teams
  • Mandatory meetings with personal tutors

Do you need assistance recruiting staff to improve student retention within your HE institution? TPP Education & Training are specialists in the recruitment for professional and academic service staff across the HE & FE sector, this includes candidates with experience in but not limited to well-being, student services and widening participation. If you would like further information on any of our services or if you are looking for a role in this area, please get in touch with the team on 020 7198 6090 or email