Dear Editors, I’m an external student at UNE—since 2006. As a result, I was very interested in a story on Trimesters in the February edition of Nucleus 2013. It wasn’t the story about trimesters itself but the references to the retention rate of externals. The story was by Elsie Baker.
On page 7 she says that “less than 40% of external students complete their degrees.” She talks about attrition after trimesters were introduced on page 9. On page 15 of the Council Minutes of 6 December 2013, the Vice Chancellor seemed to be concerned about the retention rate of externals at UNE.
I’ve contacted Corporate Intelligence at UNE—they collect all sorts of statistics—but I was told by the relevant Director that they did not collect retention rate statistics. One of the reasons given was that some degrees might take 10 years. My reply was that if a student does not continue to study in their course in a trimester, they are required to explain—policy. If they give no explanation, I assume they are considered to have ceased their course. Record is also kept of how long a student has been studying, that is, if they have reached their 10-year limit (if that limit applies to their particular course). So it would appear easy to collect retention rates for internals and externals over the years.
My concern led to me contact the student representatives on the Academic Board and my email also went on to the Academic Board itself. The representatives did not get back to me or the Board but time may tell. My question was asking whether anything academically can be done to improve the retention of external students. After all, external students make up about 80% of the student population. The retention rate for internals is better than for externals.
I’ve gone as far as I can go, so I’ve written this short piece. Hopefully, something can be done to assist all our fellow students complete their courses at UNE.
— John Drake