Improve University Student Retention with an Early Intervention Strategy

What is your Strategy for Students At Risk of Disengaging from University Learning?

One in six third-level students – or 6,200 a year – are dropping out of their college courses during their first year, according to the latest official figures from the Higher Education Authority for Ireland. The dropout rates are highest in construction, computer science and engineering courses, especially those offered at Institutes of Technology. The figures are contained in a report to be published today by the Higher Education Authority based on students progressing from first to second year between the 2013/14 and 2014/15 academic years.

To combat the alarming rates of student disengagement, it is important that Universities & HEI’s develop an early intervention strategy to improve university student retention rates. A clear understanding of what defines an “at risk” student while essential to the development of an intervention strategy, is not sufficient.

Universities must ensure a proactive approach is taken to intervention strategies. For a student showing early indicators of withdrawal, waiting until the mid-term to intervene may prove too late to reach out. Early intervention is key to helping students before problems become too overwhelming to handle. For many students, the transition from post-primary to higher education can prove lonely, and the simple knowledge that someone in the institution cares about their performance can be a powerful motivator.

Helping students establish a solid foundation for future success is or should be an integral part of any institutions core mission.

Questions to consider when implementing an early intervention strategy;

  • What is the earliest indicator that a student is struggling?
  • What is the earliest indicator that a student is struggling?» What criteria can be used to determine if a student is off-track?
  • What criteria can be used to determine if a student is off-track?» Who should reach out to the student & what systems are in place to ensure they
  • Who should reach out to the student & what systems are in place to ensure they receive notification that the student is struggling in a timely manner?» What systems are in place to pro-actively address students’ academic, health, social
  • What systems are in place to pro-actively address students’ academic, health, social and financial needs once identified as at risk?