Why trade students withdraw from their courses : students’ perspectives

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Clague, Philip
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Education
Unitec Institute of Technology
Benseman, John
Collins, Jennifer
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
ITP sector
polytechnic students
student retention
student success
completion rate
electrical engineering
Unitec Institute of Technology
Mount Albert (Auckland, N.Z.)
Auckland (N.Z.)
New Zealand
Clague, P. (2014). Why trade students withdraw from their courses : students’ perspectives. An unpublished dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Education, Unitec Institute of Technology.
Despite increasing numbers of students embarking on tertiary studies in New Zealand, the proportion of students completing a qualification is low compared to other OECD countries and Ministry of Education data shows that completion rates are low for students at Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) compared to other tertiary organisations within New Zealand. This dissertation examines the reasons why students at a polytechnic stay on or withdraw from their courses. A qualitative methodology was employed for this research, focusing on a course with a low success rate at Unitec New Zealand. The primary sources of data were student pre- and post-course questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with three students. This research project found that polytechnic students face a number of issues including finances and the time and cost of having to commute daily to the institution. This research project also found that the youngest students had the highest risk of withdrawing from the course prior to its completion. Additionally, this research project found that the main factors that put ITP students at risk of not successfully completing their course could be identified prior to, and in the early stages of, their courses. These findings imply that early intervention by academic and support staff may lead to improved retention rates among this demographic of student. The interventions include: interviewing the students prior to the course to ensure they are aware of the costs involved in full-time study; having the students identify issues that may lead to having to withdraw and putting support in place to mitigate the effects of these issues; making a greater effort to socially and academically integrate the students and ensuring that students who struggle to pass early formative assessments are given extra support.
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