A Review of the Contemporary International Literature on Student Retention in Higher Education

Othman Aljohani


One of the major issues that concerns tertiary institutions around the world is the student retention rate. In general, higher rates of completion give more positive image about the academic, administrative and financial statues of these institutions. However, improving the student completion and retention rates can be a challenging task. One way toward this goal is utilising strategies and techniques that are informed by the findings of theoretical models and empirical studies. Therefore, this paper reviews some of the contemporary studies in the student retention literature from different higher educational contexts around the world followed by a list of the variables that are commonly linked to the student retention phenomenon in higher education and a discussion of the factors that are most frequently associated with student attrition as reported by these studies. A summary of the factors associated with the student attrition phenomenon suggested that, the central factors were the quality of students’ institutional experiences and their level of integration into the academic and social systems of their academic institutions. These factors relate to students’ experiences with the administrative system of their academic institution, including the admission, registration and disciplinary rules and policies and the availability and quality of student services and facilities.

Keywords: Higher education, student retention, attrition, persistence

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