What’s driving this initiative and how are they doing?
There are two main drivers for Attendance Monitoring: the first concerns the desire to improve student retention, especially for recruiting universities, which rely on attracting and retaining sufficient student numbers to provide their required level of funding. This has become even more important as fee levels rise and the culture shifts towards students and parents being considered as “customers” or “clients”. It turns out that not many HEIs know how much it costs them to recruit a student, or how much it costs them if a student leaves prematurely. But I have seen figures from one university which shows the lifetime cost of a student leaving early could be over £25,000, and rising.
Several studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between non attendance and early withdrawal. Universities believe that identifying early that a student has withdrawn from regular attendance, and taking prompt remedial action, can make a big difference to whether a student leaves or not. Most of them currently have manual, paper based systems which are labour intensive, prone to error and can take several days to identify that a particular student is not attending, which makes it hard to take quick and effective remedial action with that student.
The other driver is the requirement of the UK Border Agency for HEIs to report on the non attendance of non-EU students. If such a student misses 10 consecutive “interactions” with his university, then there is a legal requirement to report this to the UKBA. The two drivers can overlap – in some cases, HEIs have started with the aim of complying with UKBA, only to realise that a solution can address retention as well.
Electronic campus card solutions are emerging to help HEIs achieve these objectives. There is no “one size fits all” answer – it depends on where the university is starting from. I’ll talk more about these in future blogs.