A qualitative study of student retention: The University Academic's perspective

Andrew Pilkington, Phil Bowen, Richard Charles Rose, Duminda Roshan Rajasinghe, Isabelle Evans

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Student retention continues to be a concern for higher education. Successive Governments have made efforts to incentivise universities however dropout rates continue to increase. Studies have been undertaken on student retention and it appears that there is a combination of reasons as to why student’s dropout. This study is of one university in England with a sample size of 75 academics (those employed as lecturers, tutors, instructors and researchers). A qualitative study is undertaken which is part of a funded research project that uses mixed methodology in a systematic, sequential, explanatory and, thematic approach. This article focuses on the findings from thematic analysis. Key themes identified include: engagement, attendance, mental health, workload and family pressure. Findings are presented, and suggestions are made that can be integrated into university policy and practice. The findings suggest that notwithstanding the efforts universities give to retention of students there continues to be and year on year increase in student dropout. This article provides evidence-based suggestions that widens existing literature to help improve student retention and to help inform those undertaking future research in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Academic Multidisciplinary Research
Issue number10
Early online date18 Oct 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Oct 2018


  • retention, university, thematic analysis


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