ASQ - Education Division

Monitoring Student Attrition to Enhance Quality

Abstract: Quality Approaches in Higher Education Vol. 1 (2) August 2010 article by Mahsood Shah and Chenicheri Sid Nair. Student retention is one key performance indicator used in universities to track learning and teaching performance. Research indicates that student retention and success in higher education improves an individual’s chance of securing employment opportunities, achieving career goals, and contributing to society and the economic development of the nation. Some consider retention as a moral purpose of a university to improve student success— particularly for the most disadvantaged student groups. This article outlines survey findings from a large public university in Australia with first-year undergraduate students who enrolled and later withdrew. The survey was conducted as a result of consistently high student attrition rates compared to other Australian universities. The university took the initiative to determine the reasons for student withdrawal and implemented a university-wide project to improve first year student retention.

Keywords: Quality Approaches in Higher Education - Continuous improvement - Assessment/Surveys

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