Student retention and success in higher education

Key projects, resources and ways you can connect with student retention

‘Retention’ is about students remaining in one HE institution and completing their programme of study within a specific timeframe. ‘Success’ recognises that students benefit from HE study in a wide range of ways, including personal development and progression into the labour market or further learning.

Retention and success involves inclusion, ensuring the full and equitable participation in and progression through HE for all students. We work closely in partnership with institutions and sector bodies to promote cultural change and policies and practices that can enhance the student learning experience.

Student Retention

Key projects

The HEA has ran a number of key projects relating to student retention. These include:

What Works?

The What works? Student retention and success change programme is about identifying and implementing whole-institutional approaches to improving student retention and success. Following a successful first phase the Paul Hamlyn Foundation funded the HEA and Action on Access to develop, deliver and evaluate Phase 2 of the programme from 2012-15. The final What works? programme conference was held in London on 11 April 2016.

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London Retention Project

In the UK, the HEA is currently coordinating the London Retention Project aimed at achieving a deeper understanding of the retention issues in the London context and providing support and networking opportunities to address common challenges.

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HEA framework for retention

Our coordination of the What works? Student retention and success programme (in partnership with Action on Access and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and HEFCE), together with 10+ years of other scholarly research and practice have shaped our approach to student retention and informed our framework for student access, retention, attainment and progression.

Our framework for student access, retention, attainment and progression in HE is an integral part of the HEA frameWORKS series. Developed with the sector for the sector, the series covers key thematic priorities that impact upon the quality of teaching and learning in HE.  HEA frameWORKS provide a shared point of reference and common language to shape and review policy, process and practice in order to enhance student success.

“The Higher Education Academy frameworks are evidence-based and provide the higher education sector with a national reference point to enable the institution to develop its own approach according to local circumstances as well as benchmarking performance.” Universities UK (2016), p.73, Working in partnership: enabling social mobility

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