Student Retention

Improving the retention and success of all students is a priority for all higher education institutions in the UK and abroad – and for national policy makers across the world. Even reducing withdrawal by a small amount makes a significant difference – and many interventions have been shown to improve retention by up to ten percentage points.

We can offer services to review and develop your student retention and success, drawing on research evidence about:

• The contribution of institutional level strategies, processes and procedures
• Monitoring, identifying and supporting students at risk of withdrawal
• Induction to promote engagement and success
• Active learning and teaching
• Personal tutoring and small group learning
• Effective interventions
• Partnerships with professional service staff, students’ union and others within your institution and beyond.

In particular you may be interested in policy review and development, research and evaluation, keynote address and staff workshops and institutional change.


Summary briefing report: What works? Student retention and success change programme, December 2013 Download >>

Briefing report on the What works? Student retention and success change programme, December 2013 Download >>

Thomas, L. (2012) Building student engagement and belonging at a time of change in higher education. London: Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Thomas, L. (2011) “Do pre-entry interventions such as ‘Aimhigher’ impact on student retention and success?” A review of the literature, Higher Education Quarterly. vol. 65. No. 3, p230-250

Crosling, G., Thomas, L. and Heagney, M. (2008) Improving student retention in Higher Education. The role of teaching and learning, RoutledgeFalmer

2003 ‘Improving the retention of students from lower socio-economic groups’, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 25.1, pp63-75, with Mantz Yorke

Thomas, L, (2002) Student Retention in Higher Education: The role of institutional habitus’. Journal of Education Policy vol. 17, no.4 pp423-432

Quinn, J. et al (2005) Falling down ladders and charming snakes. The meanings and implications of working class student drop-out. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Other activities

Liz was director of the higher influential What works? Student retention and success programme (2008-2011), and is now directing the What works? Student retention and success change programme on behalf of the Higher Education Academy, with Action on Access. This programme is working collaboratively with higher education providers to instigate change at both institutional and academic programme levels, and evaluating the impact of these changes and researching the process of change.

Liz is regularly asked to give key note addresses to international, national and institutional conferences on student retention and success. This includes speaking in Australia and the US on several occasions.

Liz has examined PhDs relating to the theme of student retention and success for universities in the UK, Europe, US and Australia: Queensland University of Technology, The Open University, University of Huddersfield, University of Melbourne, University of Minnesota, University of Nottingham, University of Oslo.