For the last two days I’ve been in attendance at the Strategies for Student Retention conference in Melbourne. The conference was an interesting mix of background information on retention stats in Australian higher education, strategies to improve these retention rates, arguments around the concept of students as customers, and plenty of discussion about the challenges that lay ahead for higher education. To summarise the themes of the conference in five points:
- attrition at universities is a thing;
- some of it is largely unavoidable, and relates to external factors in the lives of students;
- some of it correlates to student demographics, but to varying degrees;
- sometimes behavioural indicators can predict it;
- sometimes intervention strategies can help students stay on if the challenges they are facing can be worked around.
I’m not going to spend time going into more detail on the above though – there are plenty of fine scholars already doing that far more justice than I can here. I will however demonstrate the variation of opinions on the matter by sharing some responses to the following question I posted on Twitter:
If I had a dollar to spend on increasing student retention, where would it be most effectively spent, and why?
Here are some of the responses I got…