In the context of performance-based funding, when there is a risk that higher education institutions could take a macro view of their cohorts, it has never been more important to nuance our approaches to support the diverse needs of students and assist their successful transition across the lifecycle.

Indeed, Vincent Tinto reminds us that while the institutional lens may be focused on student retention, students themselves “do not seek to be retained, they seek to persist”.  As HE providers, it is our role to enable and empower our students to do just that. But where do we start?

Embrace our student cohorts: Institutions need to embrace and celebrate the student cohorts they have, as well as aspiring to attract the ones they want. Only then can we take true accountability for understanding the unique and often complicated challenges students face and ensure intentional and targeted transition support is embedded to unlock their capacity for success.

Provide a framework to enable a shared vision: We need whole-of-institution transition frameworks to provide a common language and shared vision for student success. This will enable disparate divisions to consider how their operations contribute to support transition, and encourage cross-functional teams to act in strategic and aligned ways for comprehensive and connected interventions that promote confidence, persistence and success.

Be intentional about engaging the student voice: Institutions must seek regular, actionable feedback from students about their transition experience at different points across the lifecycle, not just at the transition-in stage. This enables the provision of proactive outreach and guided support to students in a timely manner, while also informing the design of curricular and co-curricular initiatives to target the evolving transition needs of both current and future student cohorts.

Do this and we have the success trifecta – performance, retention and persistence!


Dr. Rebecca Eaton

Senior Manager, Transition and Success

La Trobe University


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