University of Cambridge Must Do More to Retain Students

This week, the University of Cambridge released admissions data which shows that more state school educated pupils will be starting at the university this academic year since records began.

The data shows that it has accepted a record number of state school pupils, 68% of students starting at Cambridge are from state schools, up from 65% last year and 62% four years ago, and they have increased the number of students from deprived areas from 12% to 14% of this years’ Freshers cohort.

To help relieve some of the pressures on students from deprived areas studying there, and help students adapt to the changes in environment. 

Richard Gascoigne, CEO of Solutionpath, comments on what needs to be done to ensure these students thrive at a university previously out of their reach, and how The University of Cambridge can utilise technology to dramatically improve the chances of their retention:

Transition from any further education environment to higher education is difficult. Especially for those students that are from families who haven’t been to university before. Feeling ‘part’ of it, or as the research suggests, having a ‘sense of belonging’ is an important factor in staying the course. Learning analytics technology is able to point to those who are not participating early in any problem cycle to steer them back on course.

Starting any new journey will create stress. As long as this experience is focused positively and not pathologised as a negative, stress can create the means to perform highly. In fact, stress is often a good thing (my PT gets an extra 10% from me when I’m put under pressure!) However, we recognise that this isn’t easily determined, and is often not understood by the student. What we do know is that there is a correlation between data gathered in learning analytics platforms and well-being issues experienced by students.

For example, sudden changes in student behaviours are often the precursors to problems so having a technology solution in place that can identify these changes and notify staff can help in any interventions. Every University – but especially Cambridge at this time – would benefit from identifying which students to prioritise for a conversation.

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Giving students their own data so they are empowered should also be the objective for any University. These are bright, savvy adults who know how to get the most from technology. Every University should see that giving them a view can only be a positive - it’s their data after all.

Richard Gascoigne, CEO, Solutionpath

About SolutionpathA learning analytics platform, which works to support universities to become more responsive to students needs and provide students with support.

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