Student Retention and Success

Project Team: Professor Annette Cashmore, Paul Jackson (Student Support & Development Service), Dr Jon Scott, Martin Pennington (Student Support & Development Service), Kine Dorum, and Craig Bartle

This project was funded jointly by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and HEFCE.

Under the 'What Works? Student Retention and Success Programme', the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and HEFCE are funding seven projects across the UK, involving over 20 institutions, to identify, evaluate and disseminate institutional good practice relating to student retention. One of these projects is running at Leicester.

The primary purpose of the overall programme is to generate robust, evidence-based analysis and evaluation, and sector-wide dissemination, of learning about the most effective strategies to ensure high continuation and completion rates within higher education. The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and HEFCE aim to achieve the following outcomes:

  • The identification, evaluation and sharing of institutional good practice in student retention and its dissemination across the sector, with an emphasis on collaborative approaches where appropriate
  • To build the evidence base for successful student retention practice
  •  To improve the quality of student retention practice in institutions
  • To provide additional recognition for improvements in student retention work

The main focus of the University of Leicester Student Retention and Success Project is an investigation of 'Belonging' and 'Intimacy' as themes which have enabled the institution to be successful in retaining students and in facilitating their success and satisfaction.

Initial investigation of these themes, derived from feedback, points to the students ‘feeling a belonging to the institution/department’ and the importance of ‘the intimacy of the institution and its staff’.

However, there remains a task to follow up the themes quantitatively and qualitatively in order to examine fully what students think actually makes a difference. Identifying the effective practice that underpins this success is key to the subsequent replication and dissemination of that practice across the sector.

Project Dates:

September 2008-September 2011



  • HEA Research Series Seminar October 27th 2010
    Details of the seminar hosted by the University of Leicester, featuring the project's research findings and input from the University's Student Support and Development Service
  • Retention Convention 2010
    Presentations and materials from this major conference in March 2010 including the Leicester project
  • Retention Summit 2010
    Presentations from all the What Works? Student Retention and Success Programme projects in January 2010 including the Leicester project
  • HEA Conference 2009
    Presentation on the Retention and Success Programme delivered at the HEA Conference in July 2009 including the Leicester project

Further Information

Student Retention and Success Project website 

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