CBU analyzing student retention data
SYDNEY— An official at Cape Breton University says a new study looking at how many Maritime students go on to complete their studies may help universities better understand why some are disappearing from the system.
A study released this week by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission showed almost 80 per cent of students in the region were still enrolled at the same university a year after they were admitted and only about 60 per cent go on to graduate within six years.
Gordon MacInnis, Cape Breton University’s vice-president of finance and operations, said his school’s figures are comparable with those released by the MPHEC.
“What the MPHEC study does is it sort of raises other questions as well, in terms of if you look at the students that are not completing their degrees and sort of disappear from the system, and that’s about 40 per cent after three years,” he said. “Where are they going and what is happening to them?”
MacInnis noted students could be transferring to other universities or going into a different program of study, he said. CBU is now looking at the data that is specific to it and is trying to figure out how “students are funnelling after years two, years three,” and trying to take some lessons from that. They’ll also be looking at what drives the success of students who do complete their studies.
He noted there could be academic, financial and personal reasons driving students’ decisions.
Universities spend a lot of money recruiting students and retaining students is also important, he added.
MacInnis noted the situation in the Maritimes is reflective of what is occurring elsewhere in the country.
The study also found that three per cent of students who began studies in 2001 were still enrolled six years later and 39 per cent had left the university without completing a degree. About 19 per cent of those who left after the first year, returned to the same institution within the next five years.
Students enrolled in applied or professional programs were the most likely to persist and graduate within six years, while those enrolled in humanities, arts and social sciences were less likely to persist and graduate.