The latest unreleased Student Progression Rate statistics from the Australian Department of Education may fall for the second year in a row. In Campus Morning Mail this week, Angel Calderon of RMIT predicted the rate would likely decline again due to continued disruptions to the sector.
This would follow a decline in SPR in 2021, which brought the national rate to 85.0%. More than 25 institutions experienced a decline in 2021, much higher than the average 10 institutions in previous years. The decline indicates universities need to do more to support students. This includes effectively identifying those at risk and mitigating the risk of failure.
More Attention for Student Progression Indicators
Calderon highlights that universities need to pay more attention to key student progression indicators, particularly for at-risk cohorts. A recent report only strengthens this contention. New evidence shows that students who have a low ATAR or are admitted to university on a non-ATAR basis, are significantly more likely to drop out.
The current HE review announced by the Australian Government aims to introduce new targets and reforms for HE providers. One goal will be to improve access and participation for students from underrepresented backgrounds.
The job-ready graduate reforms introduced in 2020 have already placed more accountability on HE providers for student outcomes. This includes a responsibility to monitor their academic progress and engagement. Furthermore, The Higher Education Standards Framework (HES Framework) also requires providers to track and analyse student performance data.
In addition to the HES Framework, guidance released by TEQSA indicated that “student performance data could be enhanced and used more effectively by providers to identify problems and risks early.” They also outline that institutions should be able to effectively identify students at-risk, implement early interventions, and mitigate future risks.
Introducing an Effective, Student Success Strategy
Many HE providers across Australia have begun researching and implementing data-driven student success strategies. Some institutions are relying on internally built systems, which often come with significant limitations. However, other institutions are still looking for the best system to help them achieve their student attainment and success goals.
Some things to look for in an effective student success system:
- Rich capture capabilities for a range of student performance indicators.
- Advanced learning analytics for risk prediction and identification.
- Early identification alerts for timely interventions.
- Case management technology to monitor interventions, track effectiveness and ensure students can progress.
- Dedicated workflows and risk analysis for at-risk or disadvantaged cohorts.
Soon new recommendations and performance targets will emerge from the Australian Universities Accord review. This will likely increase the pressure on HE providers to improve student progression indicators. Universities can benefit from preparing early and putting the right strategies and systems in place now to be successful.