“Why did we lose them and what could we have done”?
Attrition remains an ongoing issue in enabling programs and the broader higher education sector. For more than 31 years, CQUniversity (Central Queensland University) Australia’s Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies (STEPS) program has prepared students for university, many of whom are from one or more Australian Government target equity groups. A 2012 CQUniversity institutional review of STEPS resulted in significantly improved retention, yet attrition rates in STEPS are still of concern. Qualitative research conducted in 2016-17 with 23 students who withdrew from STEPS between 2013 and 2015, and 10 Access Coordinators located across those CQUniversity campuses offering STEPS, have provided valuable insights into reasons for continued attrition. Based on suggestions from students and Access Coordinators, recommendations to address attrition have resulted, the intention being to increase student success and satisfaction, and improve retention in STEPS.