There are five principles that guided this initiative from inception:
- A higher rate of student retention is a non-negotiable goal
Our student retention rate has been one of the poorest in the country. While it is not possible, nor desirable, for FedUni to reach 100% retention of students, there are overall strategies in which we can engage that will individually and collectively contribute to reducing attrition.
- All staff have a responsibility and the ability to contribute to student success
Every area of the University has a direct or indirect impact on the quality of the student experience. It is the responsibility of the whole University community, and every staff member within it, to help retain as many students as possible. Staff workload is important to note but it is often only small changes to practice that are needed to make a big difference to student success.
- A student-centred approach is critical
Often in universities, processes, systems and rules are not always designed, implemented, reviewed or improved with the student experience as a priority. To make a difference to student retention, and student's overall academic success, we must reconsider some of our former practices, and embrace a student-centred mindset going forward.
- Early intervention is a critical feature of all successful student retention initiatives
Once a student has dropped out, any intervention is likely to be futile. Prior to that point, we have small windows of opportunity to influence students' decision making, point them to resources, services and support, and offer alternatives. Intervening early with care and evidence based practices will ensure fewer students drop out.
- We need to be evidence-based
Our interventions and decisions about where to focus our efforts must be based on evidence. As far as possible, all strategies will be evidence-based and will come from:
- refereed literature on student retention in Australia,
- market research with reasonable reliability and validity,
- what our students tell us helps them stay and succeed, and/or
- successful initiatives put in place by other universities.
Continuing and future priorities
Building on the success of the SRS Plan 2015-2017, the priorities going forward which form the foundation of the 2018-2020 operational plan are:
- Continue using reliable and valid attrition, retention and success data, and develop predictive analytics to identify students at risk of non-completion based on this data.
- Enhance our proactive, student-centred university-wide culture.
- Improve targeted intervention and support, with continuing focus around attrition ‘hot spots’.
- Improve student transition support both in academic support and student engagement enhancing our students’ experience throughout the student lifecycle.