What is student success?

What does success for students look like, exactly? Is it defined solely by graduate outcomes? Are the less-tangible skills that they develop more important? Questions like these have a different answer depending on who you ask.

Subsequent to this obscurity of the constitution of student success, and the metrics that it comprises, the phrase ‘student success’ emerged. Through defining something much more tangible and measurable, universities are now more than ever able to effectively progress towards specific goals that improve this crucial aspect of the student experience. Here is what Tom Lowe, Head of Student Engagement and Employability at the University of Winchester, had to say about how they are making sure they achieve student success in 2022.

Advance HE is on the same page, as explained by Stuart Norton, Senior Adviser (Learning and Teaching):

  • “Developing student success, providing students with the opportunity to fulfil their potential so that they can adapt at an individual and societal level, is essential. Not only will this enable them to be the new leaders, advocates, educators and citizens of tomorrow, but it will help them engage within and across communities, become ethically conscious, sustainably aware and competent to view the world through a lens of equality and inclusion".

Because of this, Advance HE is working to enhance industry-wide efforts to achieve student success. One such study - a six-month project ending February this year - aimed to conduct research to disseminate “evidence-based approaches” and “practical examples” to progress industry-wide knowledge in this regard. The findings of this research can be found online in their ‘Connect Benefit Series’, and focuses on four proposed measures of student success:

  • Access
  • Retention
  • Attainment and progression
  • Employability

Support for the importance of these aspects in achieving student success is found, and nicely summarised, in this Ted Talk by Johan Groenewald.

But, what do you think? Do you agree with these definitions of student success? What does student success mean at your institution, and how are you making sure you achieve it in 2022? Share your thoughts with other universities in the comments below.

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