UK Universities Are Using Big Data & Machine Learning to Reduce Student Drop-Out Rates

New platform could save higher education outlets £6 million a year

Earlier this year, the UK parliament rushed through a bill that could see an increase of university student tuition fees to £9250. Controversially, the new legislation also allows universities to increase these fees year on year in line with inflation, if they choose to.

At the same time, the 2016-17 academic year saw the number of students dropping out of their degrees increase for the second year running, now up to 6.2% from 6% last year.  For any business, the prospect of retaining 6% of annual revenue from churned customers would be a no-brainer. When that 6% could translate into £6 million in tuition fees for places that can’t be resold, the stakes are high.

SolutionPath, part of the DTP Group, have developed an innovative software solution to help tackle the rising problem, and help higher education institutions fight back to ensure they not only retain at risk student fee revenue income, but also increase the level of academic support and pastoral care they offer to students when it is needed, leveraging the power of StREAM’s predictive analytics component, that accurately predicts student withdrawal 6-8 weeks in advance, with a near 95% accuracy rate.

Progression & Foresight

Hence the StREAM software solution enables universities and colleges to increase student retention dramatically, as well as improving engagement, progression and ultimately attainment, by bringing together various data sets and providing a view of each student so tutors can track progress and are alerted to any individuals that are deemed at risk of early withdrawal. According to Howard Hall, CEO & Co-Founder at Solutionpath Limited, this foresight is helping academia manage their resources more intelligently.

Although it is great to be helping universities protect student fee revenues in an ever more competitive marketplace, it is even better to know we are helping make a real difference to the lives of students by accurately identifying who needs support, whether academic or pastoral, well in advance of any crisis points, so a positive tutor or pastoral care intervention can be made.

“This not only helps improve the student experience, but the foresight we provide also means university tutor and pastoral care support staff can focus their time intelligently where it is needed, and when it is needed,” he adds.

By bringing together geospatial data such as how many times students log on to campus systems or swipe into the library, together with data around historical student performance and completion, the StREAM software provides tutors with a single view of each individual student. Already successfully in use by a number of the UK’s best known universities including Nottingham Trent, the platform is ‘market-making’ in that it’s the first of its kind built specifically to retain student revenue and help tutors improve student outcomes, and the student experience.

The implications of this could also help universities improve their place in national league tables as grades get higher and more students complete their full courses, and are guided to achieve better results by their tutors.

We spoke to Howard to find out more about the trailblazing platform. Watch above.

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