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1. Introduction

1.1 The guidelines presented in this document reiterate many of the strategies and good practice initiatives already in place in most, if not all, universities which offer radiography education programmes. The intention of the document is to look at a number of identified risk factors which impact on retention rates, to identify within each of those factors certain retention goals and to provide guidelines supported by evidence from a range of healthcare professional and other Higher Education (HE) courses. Evidence from the nursing and medical literature in particular provides some useful pointers which may or may not be applicable to radiography. Case studies provide and explain how some radiography programmes and other HE programmes have tackled particular risk factors. Through the sharing of these experiences, initiatives and good practice the SCoR hope that retention of radiography students may be maximised.

Most of the guidelines presented in this document are generally common sense approaches to retention and many are being widely used across the UK; they are reiterated here together with background evidence which may facilitate discussion and consideration. In addition, case studies may stimulate further ideas and possible suggestions: these guidelines therefore are intended to help in the development of strategies which can be specific to local circumstances.

1.2 Several key documents have informed this document:

a. Student Recruitment and Retention Guide for Diagnostic and Therapeutic Radiography SW London SHA Feb 2006

b. Managing attrition rates for student nurses and midwives: a guide to good practice for SHAs and HEIs Sept 2006 DH

c. National Audit Office (NAO) Staying the Course: the Retention of Students in Higher Education: 2007. TSO London

d. House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts Staying the course: the retention of students on higher education courses Tenth report of session 2007-08 HC 322 TSO: London

e. The CoR Approval and Accreditation Board Annual Report, for academic year 2007- 2008

Furthermore, an extensive reference and bibliography section is provided.

1.3 Some confusion may arise from the various terms used in relation to non-completion of courses by students and the ways in which numbers are collected and calculated.  To try and make meaningful comparisons between Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in the UK, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) calculates a retention benchmark for each institution based on continuation rate of the sector, adjusted for the entry qualifications and study subjects (NAO 2007). The SCoR calculates attrition by subtracting the number of students in a cohort who graduated 3 years (4 in Scotland) after their course start date, from the number who originally started the course. See Appendix 3 of the Approvals and Accreditation Board (AAB) annual report for academic year 2007-08 which reports outputs for years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 (CoR 2009).

1.4 Tinto’s work in the USA ( Tinto 1975, 1982, 1993, 1999, 2005) has to be regarded as seminal in the field of attrition from Higher Education and has influenced many other researchers in the UK and beyond.

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