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Retention and the first-year student experience of higher education in the UK Bernard Longden.

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Presentation on theme: "Retention and the first-year student experience of higher education in the UK Bernard Longden."— Presentation transcript:

1 Retention and the first-year student experience of higher education in the UK Bernard Longden

2 Where we are today In the most recent year for which published public data is available (HESA, 2005: table 3a) there were 313,755 full time first degree new entrants in UK universities and colleges. During that academic year 29,945 left and two years later were no longer in higher education (9.5% non completion rate for the UK). The average across the UK university sector hides the wide variation between institutions which ranges from 1.6% to 26% of their intake deciding to leave in their first year of study.

3 Underpinning documents

4 Context The project –aspects of the first year full time home student experience of higher education Two phases: –Phase base line student experience Reflecting back to 1997 HEFCE report –Phase reflective experience of non completion students Confidentiality restricted link between phase 1 and phase 2 Conducted prior to introduction of variable student tuition fees Developed to encourage HEFCE, HEA, DIUS or anyone to consider establishing a trend analysis

5 Details of base line study-phase 1 Phase 1 – academic year Survey midway through 1st year Spring JACS subject areas covered 23 institutions engaged questionnaire survey, completed in class time 7,000+ responses

6 Details of non retention study -phase 2 Phase 2 – academic year First year students in Survey of ‘withdrawn’ students at/before end academic year institutions engaged HEI not limited by previous JACS subjects postal questionnaire survey, Spring responses Anonymity prevents link back to phase 1

7 Focus on phase 1 data

8 Teaching and Learning Programmes generally stimulating Supportive teaching Good understanding of academic demand… … but coping with it more of a problem Feedback, esp. promptness, seen less positively Low likelihood of ‘reading around’ the subject Differences between subject areas Differences between institutions

9 Risk factors – two main factors identified were: Poor appreciation of programme and/or institution Worry about finance Part-time employment may exert an influence, and is differentially related to socio-economic grouping: those from lower socio-economic groups are more likely to take it up

10 Student pre-knowledge of an HEI considering withdrawing

11 Student pre-knowledge of the subject considering withdrawing

12 Student engagement with HEI considering withdrawing

13 Student private study commitment considering withdrawing

14 Student understanding the academic demand

15 Student acknowledgement of supportive teaching

16 Student ability to cope with academic demands

17 Free response – top ten coded worse experiences voiced by students

18 Focus on phase 2 data

19 Headlines from report Data reduction identified seven latent variables –Poor quality of learning experience –Not coping with academic demands –Wrong choice of field of study –Unhappy with location and environment –Dissatisfied with institutional resourcing –Problems with finance and employment –Problems with social integration Compared to 1997 HEFCE report little has changed

20 Non completion students’ pre- knowledge of HEI

21 Non completion students’ pre- knowledge of subject

22 student perception of influences

23 I had no idea what I wanted to do so I thought better try university in case I regretted not going. I made some good friends so stayed the whole year but I realised in the summer that I didn't want to make a career out of what I was studying. I didn't see the point in getting even deeper into debt for something I wasn't sure I really wanted. I wanted to do economics but did not get a place as I didn't quite get the required grades. I was offered Computer Science and as I really wanted to attend [University] I thought I would try it. But it did not [suit] me and [University] would not allow me to change courses so I had to move to a different uni. Student voice – wrong choices

24 Student voice – poor experience I felt quite isolated in terms of studying. Lecturers spoke during lectures and then would leave the room, with no time for questions. During my entire first year I never once met my personal tutor. There seemed to be no interest in students’ personal needs. I did NOT enjoy my experience what so ever, due to the lack of support from staff. I was never introduced to my personal tutor and felt like a number – not a person in a new [overwhelming] environment. Not one of my tutors spoke to me as an individual …

25 Distillation – some questions Knowledge of subject and university –why? –Do we spend too much on a glossy image? –Do we interview and select any more? –Do we provide the ‘right’ information to promote choice? Gap between marketing and the ‘life’ experienced by student –Is there a gap between expectation and experience? –If a gap exists where should the movement occur to close the gap – student or university? Pro active or laissez faire? –What impact will the Public Accounts Committee have on HEFCE regarding applying their ‘clout’ at HEI with poor retention? –Will HEFCE adopt the TDA funding methodology or funding on contract rather than registrations?


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