Recently, the Sutton Trust published a report, Degrees of Debt, indicating that, under the new fees regime, the typical English student now faces debts of more than £44,000 at graduation. The report found that amongst graduates in eight Anglophone countries (England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), English students fare worst.

Although the university debt issue dominated the headlines, the report also draws attention to the amount of money currently spent in English universities on activities to improve student outreach, retention and progression – nearly £750 million a year – yet there is still little evidence indicating which strategies work best.

Higher education in the UK is experiencing a shift in attitude from focusing on student access to placing a higher emphasis on the importance of measuring student outcomes, success and attainment. Specifically, the Teaching Excellence Framework, expected to be introduced this summer, will increase the premium on retention and student success by requiring that England’s universities focus on increasing the quality of teaching and learning in order to deliver better value for money for students, employers and taxpayers.

In the increasingly competitive environment for student recruitment, all universities need to show prospective students, particularly those from disadvantaged and under-represented groups, that they can deliver on retention and student success.

The Director of the Office for Fair Access, Les Ebdon, highlighted this challenge during the 2016 Hobsons University EMEA event, saying “Higher education transforms lives… But it’s only a transforming experience if you’re successful.” Hear more from Ebdon in this short video:

At Hobsons, we recognise the growing culture of student success in the UK and are uniquely positioned to help universities accelerate, automate, and optimise their student retention strategies. Download our webinar to see how we can help you engage students at your university and nurture a culture of belonging.


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