Student integration in a new Higher Education Institution

Keegan, Thomas Anthony (2010). Student integration in a new Higher Education Institution. EdD thesis The Open University.



Student integration is a concern for every educational institution. This study focuses on student integration within the business school of a new Higher Education Institution (HEI) based in Scotland. The case study HEI is fictitiously referred to as Thistle College. The study of integration is not new but most of the research has been based on retention and integration in American institutions, indicating a need for more research on integration in the UK.

Initially the research focused on why students withdrew from College, but the research focus was revised due to the problems of accessing student drop-outs. The revised study investigated why students stayed on their course and what influenced their decision to
persist in their studies.

The methodology involved desk research, student questionnaires and semi structured interviews with students and staff.

The research provides evidence of the changing face of the student population and the challenges faced by students who claim they need to spend as much time in part-time work as they do in the HEI. The research provides an analysis of the life of present day students and a better understanding of the student experience and the changing expectations of the student population. The research indicates that students are organising their College studies around their lives rather than their lives around their studies. There is less commitment to the College and more commitment to part-time work and their lifestyle outside of College. There is less academic and social integration: students rely more on the relationships formed with staff and their peers than the one they have with the College as an institution.

The study provides a number of recommendations for the College to integrate and retain students through enhancing the student experience and managing expectations from pre-entry through to graduation. Although these recommendations are case study specific, HEIs which share similar characteristics may also find these recommendations relevant.

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