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You are reading: Beyond demographics: Predicting student attrition within the Bachelor of Arts degree

Written by Andrew Harvey and Michael Luckman, La Trobe University


This paper examines factors linked to first year attrition within the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree at an Australian university. Drawing on a broad range of institutional data, the authors considered correlations between attrition and several variables. Our research revealed the need to move beyond analysis of geo-demographic factors towards indicators of student choice and educational achievement. While few demographic factors were found to be strong indicators of attrition, two other factors were clearly correlated. These factors – course preference, and first year educational performance – were significant predictors of attrition. Because subject failure is the single strongest predictor of attrition, and because the BA offers a wide range of subjects, developing strategies to ensure consistency and quality across those subjects is imperative.

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Harvey, A., & Luckman, M. (2014). Beyond demographics: Predicting student attrition within the Bachelor of Arts degree. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, 5(1). 19-29. doi: 10.5204/intjfyhe.v5i1.187.
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