Student retention in London


On Wednesday 22nd November 2017, AccessHE held the first event of our London Student Outcomes series – Student retention: Challenges and Innovation in London. 25 delegates joined us at Senate House to explore the current state-of-play for student retention in the capital, examine some of the available data demonstrating sector-wide and London patterns, and hear about research projects and interventions from other institutions created to support more students to complete their studies.

Professor John Raftery, Vice Chancellor of London Metropolitan University and Chair of the AccessHE Steering Group, introduced the day as Chair and welcomed the first speaker – Kathryn Petrie, Economist at the Social Market Foundation and co-author of On course for success? Student retention at university. Attendees heard more about the ‘London effect’ identified within the report and the factors which were found to most strongly influence non-continuation rates for young learners. Following this, Sam Turner – London Programmes Coordinator at AccessHE – led attendees through some internal research which identified both similar and contrasting patterns within the London HE landscape, and shared some insights around access agreement retention targets and activity from a sample of AccessHE members. We hope to share this research within a report to be released in December 2017.

After a short break, Dr Ellen McHugh from Brunel University London spoke about an ongoing piece of research aiming to explore the factors that encourage students from widening participation backgrounds to stay on their course. Using an online survey, focus groups and photo diaries kept by students, Ellen and her colleagues have been able to offer five preliminary findings which might help universities create environments to allow more learners to succeed. Finally, Head of AccessHE, Dr Graeme Atherton, led a participatory discussion to identify key questions for the future and how universities might be able to work collaboratively to tackle London’s retention issue.

The next event in the London Student Outcomes series – Enabling success for learners from widening participation backgrounds – is scheduled for Tuesday 6 February 2018. Further information and a booking form will be released soon.