Explaining Student Retention: The case of the University of Aberdeen
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Student retention has risen high on the political agenda in the UK as part of the government’s priorities to widen participation in higher education, in particular among groups traditionally under-represented in the sector. These concerns have been reflected in policies of the funding bodies in the UK. In turn Universities across the UK have become increasingly active in developing processes and procedures to meet the challenges of improving student retention while simultaneously widening access and participation in the context of rising student numbers overall. This has led to the desire for accurate data and reliable statistical analysis on which to inform policy at the University of Aberdeen. The purpose of this report is to answer the question: “To what extent can the probability of drop out of a student be explained by student characteristics?” Are mature students more likely to drop out? Is there an empirical distinction between younger and older mature students? Are male students more prone to dropping out? To what extent can the level of entry qualifications explain dropouts? Are there any differences in the impact of below core entry qualifications between male and female students? Do students who performed unsatisfactorily in their first year and who were allowed to repeat this first year drop out less or more often than other students? Have there been any significant trends over time? It is clear that any associations of these characteristics with drop out rates may have important policy implications for the University as it may allow the identification of those potentially “at risk” before they join the University and hence facilitate the targeting of support once students start their studies.