This Is How to Stop Students Dropping Out of University

Posted on October 19, 2017

If you are the first in your family to go to university, if you come from a deprived economic and social background, or if you have lower grades, then, according to research, there is a higher chance of you dropping out of university.

According to Dennis Duty from the University of Huddersfield, has to expand further than just assessing dropout rates: his newest research focuses on changes in the university that could improve these student retention rates. Until now, the discussion has been that critics say the universities fail to adequately support their students, while universities have argued that students decide not to continue with their studies for reasons such as financial issues, health problems or changes in family circumstances.

Duty and his team were able to identify a number of alterations that universities can make in order to help their students stay beyond their first year and to complete their studies:

1. Seminar system
One of the major findings in their research was the argument that traditional large lectures should be replaced by smaller two-hour seminars. The seminar system not just improved attendance and student performance (especially for students with low entry qualifications), but also allows students to interact easily with academics and each other. The likelihood of a dropout is significantly reduced by having students develop a sense of belonging among their peers, which is particularly effective in small seminars, as opposed to large, anonymous lectures.

2. Approachable academics
The researchers also found that the use of “student friendly” approachable academics teaching first year students is very helpful, as well as ensuring that the key tutor (year tutor) teaches all of the students. These changes would help build a strong relationship between the students and the academics, which allows the tutors to more easily identify the individuals who might be having difficulties.

3. Attendance
Previous research has found evidence that poor attendance is the number one indicator of students having problems – and eventually they stop going to class all together. Building on this data, Duty says academics should approach students who are missing lectures or seminars sooner rather than later, even as early as the second week of classes, if needed.

Overall, it is clear that - rather than just assuming the student is the problem - there is a lot universities could and should be doing to help with retention rates. And given that recent figures show the number of poor students dropping out of university is at the highest level in five years this is something that needs tackling sooner rather than later.

Category(s):Academic Issues

Source material from The Conversation