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Student Engagement Conference 2021

Exceptional student retention

This project explores the wide-ranging impacts that the Covid-19 pandemic had on the increased the risk of student non-continuation and what HEIs can do to reverse the trend.

The wide-ranging impacts of Covid-19 significantly increased the risk of student non-continuation. Students’ accounts of their experience during lockdown and of their isolation on return to university and college remind us of the extraordinary challenges they faced, and of how little we knew of the consequences for students' successful transition to and through higher education.  

Student retention pre-pandemic was already in recent decline in England. The priority for many HEIs is now to ensure that retention figures do not decline further. To do this, HEIs will be looking at their usual retention systems and practices, and evaluating what adjustments need to be made, what new approaches adopted,  and reflecting on what else we can do to ensure that the post-Covid intake “stay the course”. 

The project is an Advance HE member benefit and is open to colleagues at Advance HE member institutions. Information on Advance HE membership can be found via the link below. 

Advance HE membership - find out more

This project explores how student retention practices are adapting and changing to meet the needs of this exceptional cohort. Those participating will have had the opportunity to: 

  • better understand the challenges students are facing 
  • access quality information on existing approaches to student retention
  • reflect on how retention systems & practices can be adapted and new ideas implemented
  • discuss how we work collaboratively in competitive environments to ensure the success of all our students.

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Related events, services and resources

Below you will find information on Advance HE services and resources which relate to the member benefits listed above. 

Student retention and success in higher education

Key projects, resources and ways you can connect with student retention

‘Retention’ is about students remaining in one HE institution and completing a programme of study. ‘Success’ recognises that students benefit from HE study in a wide range of ways, including personal development and progression into work and career or further learning.

We work in close partnership with institutions and sector bodies to enhance the student learning experience to improve retention and success.

Find out more
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Services to support student retention 

The consultancy and enhancement services are designed to support student retention. Advance He member institutions receive a 10% discount on these services. 


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Active Digital Design

ADD prioritises an active approach to learning and teaching using digital design techniques.
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Teaching Excellence Programme

The interactive nature of the programme brings together theory, knowledge from the sector and practical ideas.
Find out more

New to Digital Teaching

Build the confidence to successfully deliver effective courses in a safe and nurturing environment.
Find out more
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Teaching Skills Masterclass

Providing a flexible and evidence-based solution for the development of university-level teachers.
Find out more

Certificate in Learning and Teaching in HE

A development programme for academic staff promoting a practice-based understanding of effective teaching.
Find out more
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Transforming Culture

Supporting you in developing a strong and healthy culture
Find out more
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Developing your Strategy

Supporting you to develop a visionary strategy
Find out more

Reframing Organizations, Strategy and Culture

Supporting strategy development and transforming culture at institutions
Find out more
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Student surveys

UK Engagement Survey (UKES)

The UK Engagement Survey (UKES) is the only nationwide undergraduate survey to focus on student engagement. This year's survey measures the levels of engagement of UK undergraduates from February to June 2020.

Read the 2020 report

Student Academic Experience Survey (SAES)

The annual Advance HE-HEPI Student Academic Experience Survey shows how full-time undergraduate students rate their time in higher education and their attitudes towards policy issues that impact upon them. SAES has been designed and developed in partnership with the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and with interviews conducted independently by YouthSight.

Read the 2020 report
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Publications and blogs

Creating Socially Distanced Campuses and Education project

The Creating Socially Distanced Campuses and Education project was designed as an opportunity to engage with key facets through collaborative and generative thinking and dialogue. While the ‘socially distanced campus’ is a very broad issue, the focus of the project was on the priority area of student education and experience.

Find out more and read the report
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Advance HE Connect

Advance HE Connect our online network that is open to all those who work in HE providing a space where the sector can share, connect and collaborate in one place with 19,000 HE peers from 100 countries around the globe. The platform features special interest groups, events and collaborative projects. 

Join or login now
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Stay up-to-date

Our monthly newsletter contains the latest news from Advance HE, updates from around the sector, links to articles sharing knowledge and good practice and information on our services and upcoming events. Don't miss out, sign up to our newsletter now.

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