‘Non-continuation’, ‘continuation’, ‘retention’, ‘drop out’, ‘no longer in HE’… blah blah blah. There are many words for it and they are all slightly different but they basically come down to how good is the sector and higher education institutions (HEI) at keeping students in the system so that they can flourish and achieve.
One of the most established metrics in this area is used in the UK performance indicators which is produced annually by HESA (full details here). This metric focuses on the extent to which the students have been retained within the system (i.e. have they left but gone to another institution) and looks at not only if they dropped out throughout the year but also if they returned following the summer. There is also allowance given for the fact that going to University itself can present challenges for the stufents so those that leave in the first few months are not counted in the metric.
For this post we focused on two simple but key questions (HESA provide a lot of additional insight on their site)
How have things changed over time?
How do the very different HEIs perform?
For the first question Adam looked at the full time, first degree, first year, non-continuation trend in the sector as a whole over the last 10 years. In particular, the visualisation focuses on the UK domiciled entrants enrolled on a full-time mode and shows how the rate is different for young and mature students.
For the second question Dave focused on just the latest year’s data. When producing the metric HESA also arrive at a benchmark which takes into account the make up of the particular HEI student body. It is a nod to the fact that not all HEI have the same challenges when it comes to retaining students.
It’s a long one! This visualisation lists all the HEIs with the non continuation rate (lower is better) coloured by the variance to benchmark and the width of the line showing how many students make up the non continuation.
I hope that was of interest and please do dig into HESA’s analysis.
Dave, Adam and Elena