Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Higher Education Research & Development




School of Education




This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of:

Kirk, G. (2018). Retention in a Bachelor of Education (Early childhood studies) course: students say why they stay and others leave. Higher Education Research & Development, 37 (4), 773-787.


The literature suggests that student attrition at the university level has been of growing concern in many countries. Student attrition has a number of implications for universities, chief amongst them are losses to revenue and investment in higher education. While many studies have examined causes for attrition from an institutional perspective, this study examines how the Bachelor of Education (Early childhood studies) that sits within the School of Education can support the retention of students from the students’ perspectives. Using a qualitative methodology that recorded up to 40 hours of interviews with 20 students provided insights into why they stay at university and what aspects of the Early childhood studies degree support them in staying. Conversely, the students also comment on those aspects that are not supportive and could impact on retention. The data revealed that a sense of belonging was very important and that particular course-specific activities at certain times supported developing this belonging. The students identified the importance of a mentorship program and how this program needs to be made available from the commencement of their course. Other factors contributing to retention included well-placed practicums, career choice, designated study times, as well as study groups and supportive and responsive lecturers.