Key Issues from the June 2008 Team Meeting
- European governments are interested in retention as a key policy issue.
- Tinto’s model on social integration and retention remains important but it fails to look at learning strategies and how students cope in higher education.
- Comparative European data is difficult to obtain.
- Differentiation within higher education systems varies by country but it is a key issue which needs to be considered when looking at retention and access.
- Different language is used by country and research surveys in relation to access, retention, drop out, completion, success etc. This needs to be unpacked.
- Statistics on retention etc are problematic as different terms are used. National contexts vary and there is also a ‘politics of statistics’.
- The UK has got good data on retention and completion but they add on one year to allow for completion while Ireland adds on two. The survival rate is only looked at if it is constant – used by the OECD. Some countries have high drop-out rates because their degree programmes are longer. The statistics do not always take into account the factor of part-time/full-time.
- Data is not generalisable.
- In looking at existing data the following points need to be taken into consideration:
- How data gets calculated
- What the different terms mean – retention has a number of meanings and a number of ways of being calculated.
- Trends over the years
- Different types of HE institutions
- Data on gender
- There is no data available on non-traditional students
Biographical interviews will be used with students and drop outs in order to fully understand the processes and changes over time which an individual experiences. Biographical interviews are also helpful in linking the past, present and future.