Group of Eight institutions led the country in last week’s attrition stats (CMM November 15), with figures generally half their state’s average. This is easily attributed to their status and the affluent and highly able students, from families familiar with higher education, they attract. Not as obvious is the work some of the Eight put into improving their student services, notably the University of Queensland, which had the biggest improvement among the Go8 between 2015 and last year, improving 1.2 per cent. “It may not seem like much but it represents hundreds of extra students finishing what they started,” a learned reader tells CMM.
While UoQ has first year learning spaces for students in degrees with high attrition observers suggest what really helps is the human touch, provided by the 80 members of the Student Relations Network, all casually employed while studying at the university. They are trained to talk to other students about dropping subjects and changing courses and where to find academic help. They call students who have decided on UoQ but are yet to enrol and before census cut-off date and in the lead-up to second semester. “It is an expensive program to run, especially with the commencing numbers UQ pulls, but well worth it if it takes away some of the stress among the first-year cohort,” an admirer of the scheme says.