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 a programme of study. ‘Success’ recognises that students benefit from HE study in a wide range of ways, including personal development and progression into work and career or further learning.

We work in close partnership with institutions and sector bodies to enhance the student learning experience to improve retention and success.

Student Retention

Key projects

The HEA runs key projects relating to student retention. These include:

Retention Collaborative Project 2017

The Retention Collaborative Project brings England-based higher education providers together to identify common challenges and share learning and best practice. This programme involves networking and collaborative development with other institutions, auditing your current approach to student retention, and bespoke and targeted supported to enhance planning and development of your strategy and practice to support student retention.

Find out more

What Works?

The What works? Student retention and success change programme identified and implemented whole-institutional approaches to improving student retention and success.

Find out more

What works in approaches to the BME attainment gap

The Higher Education Academy in its commitment to excellence in teaching and the improvement of learning outcomes supported Kingston University to explore (in collaboration with University of Hertfordshire and University of Wolverhampton) effective institutional strategic approaches to closing the BME attainment gap. 

Find out more

Access, Retention, Attainment and Progression
Community of Practice

Communities of practice are knowledge exchange and development hubs that bring together people from across the sector both nationally and globally. They develop and support practice, showcase and drive innovation and address sector challenges through collaboration. The aim of this global community is to enable members to share useful resources on the issues surrounding student retention. It's a forum that will be shaped by you and for you, through sharing ideas and best practice.

Find Out More


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.

HEA framework for student access, retention, attainment and progression is informed by more than 10 years of HEA-led and commissioned projects, scholarly research and practice. It provides a structure for your work to improve student retention: strategic planning, curriculum design, identifying professional development, informing research projects, and reviewing and evidencing activities to establish impact.

“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

Request our frameworks

HEA Knowledge HUB

Explore our extensive range of resources to improve teaching and enhance learning. Pinpoint exactly what you want by using our range of specialist filters.