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What Works? Student retention and success change programme

The What works? Student retention and success change programme focused on identifying and implementing whole-institutional approaches to improving student retention and success.

Following a successful first phase between 2008 and 2011 the Paul Hamlyn Foundation funded the HEA and Action on Access to develop, deliver and evaluate Phase 2 of the programme; this concluded with a full report and a summary version launched on 11 April 2017 at the What Works? final conference.

The What works? programme showed that effective interventions have an academic purpose relevant to all students and are delivered in the mainstream, facilitating collaboration between students and staff. Interventions are most successful when ongoing, and part of a programme of measures featuring the monitoring and follow-up of engagement by individual students. The final report highlights the importance of an institution wide approach to improving retention and success, including senior leadership, and the crucial role of research and evidence in developing solutions to issues of concern.

Paul Hamlyn, Action on Access, HEA

Phase One

The What works? Student retention and success programme: phase 1 was a three-year programme initiated and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Between 2008 and 2011, £1 million supported seven projects, involving 22 institutions, to identify, evaluate and disseminate effective practice to improve student retention.

The seven projects produced research reports, practical tools and other resources as part of Phase One. View the project outputs.

Phase Two

Phase 2 built on Phase 1 of What works? programme and focused on implementing and evaluating its findings.

Specifically Phase 2 of the What works? programme aimed to:

> identify strengths, challenges and priorities for change at the strategic and course/programme level;

> improve the strategic approach to the engagement, belonging, retention and success of students;

> implement or enhance specific interventions in the areas of induction, active learning and co-curricular activities in three selected discipline areas;

> evaluate the impact of changes in both formative and summative ways, drawing on naturally occurring institutional data, bespoke student surveys and qualitative methods, such as phone or face-to-face interviews with staff and students.

View the institutions vision statements for Phase 2.