What is the Meaning of Student Success in Higher Education?

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Tom Lowe


The term ‘student success’ has increasingly been used as the catch-all term for focusing on the student outcomes measures in higher education. In the English Higher Education context, the term is used as part of regulatory pressures by the Office for Students, to assess student retention rates across providers through Access and Participation Plans and annual reporting (B3). Student success has become an amalgamation (in strategies, job titles and now regulation) to address outcomes relating to retention, employability, access, widening participation and student satisfaction, prioritised by political direction and senior management teams. Although the definition and application of this key term differ in use at individual providers. With great pressure and dissonance surrounding this prominent term, this paper looks at the literature regarding what the term student success means in practice for students, academic programmes or professional services depending on the context.

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