Retention of Students That Do Not Want to Be There!!! (repost)

Now, this has happened on many courses that I have taught on; you know the student that is just there to either be with their friends or they have been persuaded to move into further education by parents. It was happening so much at one establishment I taught at, from 2005 onwards we decided that every full-time course in the department below level two must have a four-week introduction course before moving the students on to the main program and so avoid a retention hit.

Now, this did work on some courses as it allowed us to see the students that would probably be an issue further down the line. It also meant that the students left with a short qualification and we did not take a possible retention figure hit on the maim program. Although the students did not progress onto the main program they originally wanted at least they left with something. Of course, quite a few students were not identified during the four-week intro course period, so they had to be addressed on an individual basis as the course progressed.

I usually found with the un-motivated students, quite a lot of them were there under duress because it was a choice after leaving school of either coming to college or getting a job. Often the college option seemed a great deal more desirable. Now to add another issue to the mix we had EMA payments, while these did help a lot of students to be able to continue with education, there were quite a few and many that told my learning mentors or me directly in tutorials that they were only on the course for the EMA.

So how do we deal with these students, they have no interest in putting the required work required to pass the course, they are still attending so the EMA is paid, quite often the students would have the term bonus payment withheld, but they never seemed too worried about that. The major problem was not just the issue that more than likely it would be a not completed the course associated with that learner, but they would disrupt classes for other students. You could go through the disciplinary procedure; however unless it was a severe incident, the college did not want to take the retention hit.

I could turn a few students around over the years that went from un-motivated and disruptive to putting some effort in and completing the course. This was fantastic, as I found nothing better than bringing a student through in this way. I was lucky that I had an excellent group of learning mentors to work with who did a fantastic job, not every college is in that position though, and they turn into yet another failure on the stat sheet,

So, whether it is down to parents pushing the kids into something they do not want to do, or a more robust recruitment policy for colleges, I think more has to be done, so you are not setting these young adults up for failure. I am not going to go into the way that FE is funded as I have already written an article on that, but something needs to be done about the situation.

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