Why Students Leave: Findings from Qualitative Research into Student Non-Completion in Higher Education in Ireland
This project reports on a systematic survey of existing qualitative data on student non-completion gathered by 16 Irish higher education institutions, including Universities, Institutes of Technology and HECA Colleges. The findings of the current qualitative study identified five core themes which are significant in terms of student non-completion: course, personal, financial, medical/health and family. Of these five, course was the strongest influencing factor. Importantly the study calls for a more positive interpretation of non-completion as part of the wider context of students’ career and programme plans. It also suggests that developing systematic and standardised institutional approaches to qualitative data gathering on students who leave will help enhance institutional and policy responses for the future. This study also helps to inform the forthcoming HEA Report 2015 A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education Institutions 2012/13 2013/14, a quantitative analysis.