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Student Recruitment for Student Retention Anna Round Student Services Centre University of Northumbria.

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Presentation on theme: "Student Recruitment for Student Retention Anna Round Student Services Centre University of Northumbria."— Presentation transcript:

1 Student Recruitment for Student Retention Anna Round Student Services Centre University of Northumbria

2 Recruitment and Retention Course choice Mistaken expectations Reactive entry Entry requirements Institutions need to recruit MORE students … BUT they need to recruit the RIGHT students

3 Identity is still being formed (Shipton 2004) (students are late adolescents) Life/learning paths never simply the products of rationally determined choice Learning careers take place in the context of life experiences/changes Young people are highly adaptable Changes & choices are highly complex Bloomer & Hodkinson 2000 I had to be there to know it was wrong Davies & Elias 2003

4 I chose the wrong course Cited by withdrawing students in most surveys: Davies and Elias 2003 (DfES) – 24% Mantz Yorke 1999 – 39% Long 1999 (Australia) – 20% to 35% Far less important for mature age students McGivney 1996 found that mature-age students who left were more likely to do so because of non-academic factors Yorke et al 1997 found that mature-age students were more likely to feel satisfied with course choice & to feel committed Wrong course students will often try again stopout not dropout

5 What is the wrong course ? Course does not match students strengths Course does not match the precise focus of the students interests Course does not match [m]any of the students interests Course does not match the students career goals Student has radically changed interests/goals

6 Advising and course choice – some problems Students receive poor advice from official channels Advice is too backward looking Advice is limited in scope Advice is agenda-driven Students receive poor advice from unofficial channels University advice is ignored

7 Danger signals in course choice … This course will get you a job with a high salary This course leads to jobs and you have to do something This is the course for people who get good grades You need to decide on a course quickly (youre already late!) You did well in this at school… university will be more of the same

8 Mistaken expectations - subject University vs. school content discipline vs. syllabus; theory and practice; stereotyping University vs. school learning styles knowledge vs. problem-solving focus; no right answers modular vs. discipline thinking; Relevance to career aims/the world Scholarly focus vs. assessment focus Academic demands

9 Mistaken expectations - studying Workload and organisation Hours of study Independence The great spoon feeding debate Student satisfaction relates MORE to meeting of expectations than to ACTUAL levels of workload/academic demands

10 Mistaken expectations - social Finance The money. That really scared me… a rabbit in the headlamps Accommodation I cried when I saw my room… I had to share a bathroom and kitchen with thirty other people… just painted breeze blocks Independence you come to university having been spoon-fed through A-levels… its your first time away from home… youve been used to having mum and dad run you everywhere in the car and youve been used to having an awful lot of support One big party/ the Big Brother House … when the work started to come I was still partying… Ozga and Sukhnandan 1998

11 Mistaken expectations - attitudes A culture of entitlement? … students appear to be getting higher grades for doing less McInnis et al 2000 Media-led images? … it was all magazine reading, watching TV and hearsay… Ozga and Sukhnandan 1998 Consumers and customers? … attitudes… have shifted very clearly in terms of a consumerism/ customer kind of relationship, that were providing a product lecturer quoted by Medway et al 2003

12 What is reactive entry ? Subject-irrelevant choices University is the natural progression Everybody [like us] goes to university My parents/teachers want me to go to university I cant think of anything else to do I dont want to get a job just yet This subject/university fits my image

13 Entry grades and retention For all students, non-continuation rates RISE as A-level grades FALL Qualifications other than A-levels correlate with LOWER retention rates For students who persist in higher education, entry grades do NOT appear to predict degree outcomes The explanation for the relationship between entry grades and retention is unclear

14 Subject motivations for HE entry Correlate with… Longer private study hours Higher rates of attendance Stronger academic orientation Higher academic satisfaction Higher social satisfaction Better academic & social adjustment

15 Non-Subject motivations for subject choice Correlate with… Shorter private study hours Slightly lower rates of attendance Lower academic satisfaction Worse academic adjustment

16 Addressing course choice issues Acknowledge the external problems Normalise course change Flexibility of first year credit: dont bore the decided ones and allow the undecided ones to move Offer DETAILED information Applicants have an increasing requirement for information, which it is felt is no longer totally satisfied by prospectuses, brochures and the selected information given by an institution... what applicants learn pre-enrolment will determine whether they remain within the institution Bowden 2003

17 Managing [creating?] expectations … Honesty… … if Im paying decent money to go to college I want to make damn sure that Im getting 110 per cent attention off the teachers that Im paying to teach me. Hutchings and Archer 2001 Detail What will a typical day – week – term be like? How is the subject taught? What are the assessments? The ACT of offering detailed information inspires trust in the institution.

18 Current students … Are perceived as more honest Benefit from interaction with staff Address issues with up-to-date information Can use recruitment activities to develop employability skills [or even as part of course-work] Luton University found that conversion rates rose by 60% when current students advised on recruitment and pre-enrolment materials

19 ACTIVE recruitment works Stephenson 2003 Encourage students to examine their own interests/goals Encourage students to question their experiences, expectations & attitudes Expose students to HE subjects & experiences they dont ask for/want Use dialogue, group activities, taster sessions and current students

20 Student recruitment and advertising Information in Advertising: - Less is more - A picture is worth words -Change your image, not change your life (get not do) -Buy this now, buy something else next week Information in [effective] recruitment: -Concrete, practical information -Up-front and explicit information -Encourage students to be actively involved -Encourage students to commit to a course

21 Overselling? Prospectuses have taken on some of the characteristics of travel brochures and may set up presumptions and expectations that visits are unable to dispel Yorke 1999, p.100 Advertisement literate students? May distrust shiny happy literature on principle May be familiar with advertising images but less able to decode these May be immune to yet another lifestyle ad May leave purchasing to their parents

22 The Glamorgan Solution #1 … this year we've decided to embark on something different - we've gone out on a limb by asking our prospective students to think Crofts 2003 No glossy pictures or vague positive language Plain typeface and line drawings Subject-based pop up questions and responses Fast-response chatrooms where applicants could ask any questions about subjects or applications Avoid the morass of lifestyle advertisements

23 The Glamorgan Solution #2 Information is interesting for its own sake Active learners get the most out of university University life isnt [always] glossy and glamorous, but its still worthwhile you become a different person when you learn Crofts 2003 Our campaign aims to get our audience thinking, to snare those with the intellectual curiosity and inquisitiveness thats necessary to succeed at university… to establish a new cerebral sexiness

24 Questions for students Do I have a specific career/area in mind? Do I want to just chill out for a bit? What sorts of question interest me? What is important to me? Which generic skills do I want to develop? Do I want a fresh start? Can I afford it? What are my alternatives?

25 Parental involvement Positives Boosts dialogue between parents & students Generates parental support for students Helps parents understand student experience Problems Parental goals dont always motivate students Student may want/benefit from fresh start Conflict between parental attitudes & subject issues

26 Conclusions Students should be active in recruitment Students need full and honest information Students need to be prepared for change and for surprises Institutions need to be flexible (different students, changing students) Current students are a valuable resource Student integration starts at recruitment Students should be clear about their own choices

27 Baillie, L (2001) IT employers skill demands: do they know what they want? Professional Liaison Centre, City University, London Bloomer, M and Hodkinson, P (2000) Learning careers: continuity and change in young people s dispositions to learning. British Educational Research Journal 26 (5) Bowden, R (2003) Institutional approaches to improving student success at the University of Brighton. Paper presented at the conference on Enhancing Student Retention: using international research to improve policy and practice (Institute for Access Studies) Amsterdam, November Crofts, P (2003) Why I … think we need to market cerebral sexiness. Times Higher Educational Supplement 24 August 2003 Davies, R and Elias, P (2003) Dropping out – a study of early leavers from Higher Education. DfES Research Report 386. Hutchings, M and Archer, L (2001) Higher than Einstein: Constructions of going to university among working-class non-participants. Research Papers in Education 16 (1) 69 – 91 McGivney, V (1996) Staying or Leaving the Course: Non-Completion and Retention of Mature Students in Further and Higher Education. Leicester: National Institute of Adult Continuing Education McInnis, C, Hartley, R, Polesel J & Teese, R (2000) Non-completion in vocational education and training and higher education: A literature review commissioned by the Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (Australia) Centre for the Study of Higher Education, The University of Melbourne. Medway, P, Rhodes, V, Macrae, S, Maguire, M and Gerwitz, S (2003) Widening participation through supporting undergraduates: what is being done and what can be done to support student progression at King s? Department of Education and Professional Studies, King s College, London Ozga, J and Sukhnandan, L (1998) Undergraduate non-completion: developing an explanatory model. Higher Education Quarterly 52 (3) 316 – 333. Shipton, A (2004) The evolving of a sense of self over a university career. Manuscript, UNN. Stephenson, E (2003). Retention – a pre-entry issue. Paper presented at the conference on Student Success: What works?, Action on Access, London, December 2003 Yorke, M, with Bell, R, Dove, A, Haslam, L, Hughes Jones, H, Longden, B, O ¯ Connell, C, Typuszak, R & Ward, J (1997) Undergraduate non-completion in England (Extended Final Report of a research project commissioned by HEFCE) Bristol: HEFCE. Yorke, M (1999) Leaving early: Undergraduate non-completion in higher education. London: Falmer

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