Student Retention and Engagement

Andrews, J. and Clark, R. (2012) Peer Mentoring Works! How Peer Mentoring Enhances Student Success in Higher Education, Birmingham: Aston University
This report is a project output as part of the ‘What Works? Student Retention and Success Programme’. The three year evaluative programme was initiated and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The report and its associated outputs provide evidence that peer mentoring works and offers universities a way forward in supporting their students at transition. Available here

Avery, B., Lees, R. and Russell, D. (2019) Commuter student- are you local?, paper presented at the Society for Research into Higher Education Annual Conference 2019, 13 December, Newport Wales This presentation looks at the impact of attendance and the distance travelled to attend university on outcomes. Available here

Blackman, T. (2020) What affects student wellbeing? HEPI Policy Note 21, Oxford:Higher Education Policy Institute
Could it be that teaching and feedback are contributing to poor student wellbeing? This Policy Note presents the results from exploring whether teaching and feedback are contributing to poor student wellbeing using the Student Academic Experience Survey 2019. Available here

Crosling, G., Heagney, M. and Thomas, L. (2009) Improving student retention in higher education: Improving Teaching and Learning, Australian Universities Review, 51 (2)
As a key performance indicator in university quality assurance processes, the retention of students in their studies is an issue of concern world-wide. Implicit in the process of quality assurance is quality improvement. In this article, we examine student  retention from a teaching and learning perspective, in terms of teaching and learning approaches that have an impact on students’ decisions to continue with or withdraw from their studies. The major need is to engage students in their studies, and in this article we discuss  ways that student engagement can be facilitated through the teaching and learning programme in higher education currently. Available here

Dodgson, R. and Bolam, H. (2002) Student retention, support and widening participation in the north east of England, Sunderland: Universities for the North East

Dodgson, R. and Bolam, H. (2002) Student retention, support and widening participation in the north east of England, Sunderland: Universities for the North East This is a report about a research project that took place between 2001-2002. It examined and evaluated activities to support and retain students in the six universities located in the north east of England (Durham, Newcastle, Northumberland, Open, Sunderland and Teesside). It considered national and institutional strategies for student retention and identified common aspects that all institutions need to consider for supporting students, especially in the context of widening participation.

Foster, E., Lawther, S, Keenan, C., Bates, N., Colley,B. and Lefever, R. (2012) The HERE Project: Higher Education: Retention & Engagement, London: Paul Hamlyn Foundation The HERE Project (Higher Education: Retention & Engagement) was part of the HEFCE/ Paul Hamlyn Foundation-funded What Works? Student Retention & Success Programme (2008-2011). Three institutions delivered the project jointly: Nottingham Trent University, Bournemouth University and the University of Bradford. The HERE Project research was conducted with first year students and investigated two themes associated with student retention and success: Strand 1 – The impact that doubting has on retention Strand 2 – The impact that individual programme teams can make upon retention. Available here

Foster, E., Lawther, S, Keenan, C., Bates, N., Colley,B. and Lefever, R. (2012) The HERE Project Toolkit- A resource for programme teams interested in improving student engagement and retention London: Paul Hamlyn Foundation The toolkit provides practical advice and recommendations for teams wishing to improve and enhance the student experience. Available here

Harley, D., Winn, S., Pemberton,S. and Wilcox, P (2007) Using texting to support students’ transition to university in Innovations, Education and Teaching International, 44, (3) 229–241 This article argues that judicious use of mobile phone text messaging by university staff has the potential to enhance the support provided to students by an academic department during the transition to university. It reports on an evaluation of a desktop computer application, Student Messenger, which enables staff to send text messages from their computers to the mobile phones of groups of students. Available here

Higher Education Academy (2012) Male access and success in higher education -A discussion paper, York: HEA  This discussion paper has been produced to raise the profile of the agenda and to promote and inform the debate within and between institutions about gendered differentials in HE. It seeks to provide an overview of the issues based on the latest research evidence, and to highlight some institutional strategies designed to address the barriers thought to account, in part, for the underachievement of male students. In using the broader language of ‘success’ it recognises that students benefit from participation in HE in a wider range of ways than attaining ‘a good degree’, namely in their personal development and progression into the labour market or further learning. The target audience is: policy makers; funders; senior managers in HEIs; academic and non-academic support staff; those involved with admissions, WP, retention and progression to employment; equality officers; staff and educational developers; and researchers. Available here

Higher Education Funding Council for England (2017) Undergraduate transfers in England, Bristol:HEFCE
This report analyses transfers between higher education institutions made by first degree students in England. It describes the scale of transfers made within the same subject area and identifies which students switch between institutions. It investigates when the transfer of academic credit is more likely and it examines the qualification rates of transferring students. Available here

Higher Education Funding Council for England (2017) Year one outcomes for first degree students, Bristol:HEFCE
This report identifies and quantifies the outcomes of UK-domiciled, full-time first-degree students at English higher education institutions at the end of their first year of study. It identifies seven different year-one outcomes and shows that one in five students do not continue straight on to the second year of their degree. Available here

Jones, R. (2008) Student retention and success: a synthesis of research, York: HEA This synthesis surveys literature relating to student retention highlighting key research reports and drawing out key themes. As well as summarising key research reports in this area this synthesis also draws out key themes relating to student retention such as factors contributing to early withdrawal, factors enhancing student retention and success, and experiences and implications of early withdrawal. Available here

Kerr, H (2013) Mental Distress Survey Overview, London:NUS Services Limited The Survey aimed at increasing the NUS’ understanding of mental health issues among students (briefly) and to understand the level and standard of support services offered to students who suffer mental health issues (i.e. mental illness or symptoms of mental illness) by their institution / place of study. Available here

London Higher (2019) Commuter Students in London: Results of a pilot project on factors affecting continuation, London: London Higher To date attempts to examine the experiences and outcomes of commuter students have largely been qualitative. The focus of this pilot exercise was on England-domiciled fulltime first-degree students in London travelling to campus whether living at home or in other accommodation. Available here

Maguire, D. and Morris, D. (2018) Homeward Bound: Defining, understanding and aiding ‘commuter students’, London: HEPI This report looks at the experience of the commuter student. Available here

McGiveny, V. (2003) Staying or Leaving the Course: Non-completion and retention of mature students in further and higher education, Leicester: NIACE   Staying or Leaving the Course explores the continuing challenges of retention and non-completion rates in further and higher education and the implications of having an expanding and more diverse student population. Based on research findings and evidence from further and higher education, McGivney investigates the scale and nature of mature student withdrawal and explores the reasons behind it. The final section outlines strategies for dealing with the most common causes of withdrawal and for improving retention rates.

Morey, S.,  Robbins, S., O’Regan, M., Hall, K., Fleming, S. and Mumford, C. (2012) Comparing and evaluating the impacts on student retention of different approaches to supporting students through study advice and personal development at the universities of Reading and Oxford Brookes, London: Paul Hamlyn Foundation
The report looks at the different approaches to supporting students through study advice and personal development on retention. Available here

Morgan, M. (2018) Fostering engagement in higher education of all stakeholders in the delivery of a high quality student experience- Phd by Publication, Bournemouth: Bournemouth University This thesis is based on the golden thread that draws together my work which is the evidence that well informed and structured activities to foster student engagement can impact on the progression, continuation and success of undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) students. Available here

MORI (2006) UNITE Student Living Survey, Bristol: UNITE in Association with HEPI
The UNITE Student Experience Report highlights how positively students view their time at University including their experience encompassing academic endeavours, study support, sports, social, welfare and accommodation. Available here

National Audit Office (NAO) (2007) Staying the course: the retention of students in higher education, London: The Stationery Office This is a report by the National Audit Office about the retention of students in higher education in the UK; it builds on the previous report from 2002 (NAO 2002). The focus is on the extent to which the sector is continuing to improve its performance in retaining undergraduates on their higher education courses, in particular whether the:
•    sector’s performance on retention has improved since it was last reviewed;
•    Higher Education Funding Council for England could do more to encourage the sector to improve retention of students;
•    higher education institutions could do more to improve retention of students.

The report includes an analysis of HESA data about student retention and completion and case studies of higher education institutions. It concludes that the sector has high rates of student retention (especially when compared internationally) but that institutions could do more to improve student success. The report advocates greater monitoring and use of data within institutions about student retention, and the sharing of evaluated effective practice across the sector to support this goal. Available here

Olsen, A.  and Spain, J.(2009) Staying the Course: Retention and Attrition in Australian Universities, Australia: Australian Universities International Directors’ Forum
This is a study of retention and attrition in 32 Australian universities. Available here

Quinn, J., Thomas, L., Slack, K., Casey, L., Thexton, W. and Noble, J. (2005) From Life Crisis to Lifelong Learning. rethinking working class ‘drop out’ from higher education, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation This research used a range of qualitative methods – including research jury days, interviews with 67 former students and a set of commissioned international studies – to explore the experience and implications of leaving higher education early for students from non-traditional backgrounds, particularly lower socio-economic groups and first generation entrants. The research found that although some students drift away, for many it is a significant decision – perhaps the first decision that they make, and it is not taken lightly. The reasons for withdrawal included issues such as being on the wrong course, academic challenges, a lack of institutional belonging and non-university commitments. The research found that leaving higher education was not necessarily a disaster, rather students had sound reasons for withdrawing early and in addition most students felt they had gained skills, confidence and life experience from their time at university. Furthermore, all but one intended to return to higher education.

Stephens, B. (2011) Annual Research Report Presentation of findings from the first and second years of the back on course project December 2011, London: Open University
This report presents the data and findings from the first and second years of the three-year back on course project, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and delivered by a partnership between the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and The Open University (OU). The project was established in response to widespread concern in the last 10 years about the number of students dropping out of higher education before they gained their qualification, and the cost of that non-completion, both financially and in terms of lost opportunity – money and lost opportunity to the student, the university and the wider economy. Although a great deal of research has since been conducted on improving retention within Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), we have been unable to find significant research carried out with students after they leave the institution, and there has been no systematic attempt to offer these students information, advice and guidance (IAG) on their future direction. Available here

Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in HE (2020) Summary report: Understanding the impact of interventions to address inequality in the student experience, London: TASO
The review aimed to uncover the strength of evidence for interventions that higher education providers might use to reduce inequality gaps. This summary report synthesises the review’s findings and recommendations with insights from  TASO and our Theme Working Group on the student experience. The report concludes with our reflections and priorities for future work on this topic. Available here

The Student Room (2012) UNITE Student Experience Report 2012, Bristol: UNITE The UNITE Student Experience Report highlights how positively students view their time at University including their experience encompassing academic endeavours, study support, sports, social, welfare and accommodation. Available here

Tinto, V. (1993)  Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition (2nd. edition), Chicago: The University of Chicago Press
This edition has been revised and expanded  and incorporates recent research and policy reports on why students leave higher education. Tinto applies his theory of student departure to the experiences of minority, adult, and graduate students, and to the situation facing commuting institutions and two-year colleges. He has revised his theory as well, giving new emphasis to the central importance of the classroom experience and to the role of multiple college communities.

Tinto, V. (2003) Establishing Conditions for Student Success in Thomas, L., Cooper, M. and Quinn, J. (eds) Improving Completion Rates Among Disadvantaged Students, Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books This article focuses on the conditions in which students are placed, not their attributes or their lives outside the university that impacts on their ability to succeed.

Thomas, L., Quinn, J., Slack, K. and Casey, L. (2002) Student Services: Effective Approaches to Retaining Students in Higher Education, Stoke on Trent: Institute for Access Studies, Staffordshire University Universities UK launched a project to identify a range of effective approaches by student services in retaining students in Higher Education. The project considered the most effective ways of ensuring access to services, particularly for those students at risk of non-completion. The research was funded by the DfES and carried out by the Institute for Access Studies (IAS) at Staffordshire University; it was overseen by a steering group which included representatives from Universities UK, SCOP, the DfES, the NUS, HEFCE, UKCOSA, and AMOSSH. Available here

Thomas, L. and Jones. R. (2018) Student engagement in the context of the commuter students, London: The student Engagement Partnership
Traditionally in the UK higher education students have re-located to their place of study and lived in student accommodation, with an element of communal living – and learning Increasingly. However students are continuing to live at home and commute to their place of studyThis applied, qualitative study focuses on understanding the engagement of commuter students in higher education, and how engagement can be enhanced by purposive actions of higher education providers (HEPs) and/or students’ unions (SUs). Available here

Trowler, V. (2010) Student engagement literature review, York: The Higher Education Academy NEW!
This review looks at the works flagged by authors in the field who talk about ‘student engagement’. Available here

Troxel, W.G. (2010) Student persistence and success in United States higher education: a synthesis of the literature, York: HEA  This is an EvidenceNet research synthesis of student retention in US higher education, commissioned by the Higher Education Academy. It provides a synthesis under the following topics: an overview of the theoretical models related to student persistence, institutional retention, and academic success; institutional approaches to improving engagement, persistence, and retention; and accountability pressures from the public. Available here

Yorke, M. and Longden, B. (2004)  Retention and student success in higher education, Maidenhead: SRHE and Open University Press Retention and completion rates are important measures of the performance of institutions and higher education systems. Understanding the causes of student non-completion is vital for an institution seeking to increase the chances of student success. The early chapters of this book discuss retention and student success from a public policy perspective. The later chapters concentrate on theory and research evidence, and on how these can inform institutional practices designed to enhance retention and success (particularly where students are enrolled from disadvantaged backgrounds). This book draws upon international experience, particularly from the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and the United States.  Retention and Student Success in Higher Education is valuable reading for senior managers within higher education institutions responsible for student success.

Webb,O., Wyness, L. and Cotton, D (2017) Enhancing access, retention, attainment and progression in higher education- A review of the literature showing demonstrable impact, York: Higher Education Academy This report presents a synthesis of literature – published since 2008 – that demonstrates significant impact in each of the key student outcomes of access, retention, attainment, and progression. This builds on a number of key Higher Education Academy (HEA) publications or projects from the past five years that have addressed issues associated with these four outcomes (Jones 2008; Thomas 2012; Stevenson 2012; Evans 2015; Woodfield 2014; Woodfield and O’ Mahony 2016; Hanesworth 2016). Available here