Retention rate is a measure of the proportion of students who continue their studies after their first year.

The department publishes two types of retention rates, Normal and Adjusted:

  1. Normal Retention rate:

    The Normal Retention rate for year (x) is the number of students who commenced a bachelor course in year (x) and did not complete in year (x), and continued in year (x + 1) (retained students), as a proportion of all students who commenced a bachelor course in year (x) and did not complete in year (x). The normal retention rate calculation is based on a match process using the students' StudentID. This gives a "crude" retention rate, which identifies students that are retained the following year at the same institution. Students who remained at the same institution, but changed course are counted as retained and students who changed institutions are not counted as retained.  

  2. New Normal Retention rate:

    The New Normal Retention rate for year (x) is the number of students who commenced a bachelor course in year (x) and did not complete in year (x) or year (x + 1), and continued in year (x + 1) (retained students), as a proportion of all students who commenced a bachelor course in year (x) and did not complete in year (x) ) or year (x + 1).

    The new normal retention rate calculation is based on a match process using the students' StudentID. This gives a "crude" retention rate, which identifies students that are retained the following year at the same institution. Students who remained at the same institution, but changed course are counted as retained and students who changed institutions are not counted as retained.  

  3. Adjusted Retention rate:

    The Adjusted Retention rate for year (x) is the number of students who commenced a bachelor course in year (x) and did not complete in year (x), and continued in year (x + 1) (retained students), as a proportion of all students who commenced a bachelor course in year (x) and did not complete in year (x).

    The adjusted retention rate calculation is similar to the normal retention rate calculation however it is based on a match process using both the StudentID and the Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN). This gives a more accurate retention rate calculation, as it identifies students at either the same or a different higher education institution. In other words, if a student moves from one institution to another in the following year, he or she would be counted as retained in the adjusted retention rate calculation, but attrited in the normal retention rate calculation.  

  4. New Adjusted Retention rate:

    The New Adjusted Retention Rate methodology was adjusted slightly from 2018. The new methodology gives preference to returning students over completing students, which was not the case on the old methodology. The impact of the change is a slight increase in retention rates in many cases. Published time series data from 2018 has been calculated with this new methodology.

    The New Adjusted Retention rate for year (x) is the number of students who commenced a bachelor course in year (x) and continued in year (x + 1) (retained students), as a proportion of all students who commenced a bachelor course in year (x) and did not complete in year (x) or year (x + 1).

    The new adjusted retention rate calculation is similar to the normal retention rate calculation however it is based on a match process using both the StudentID and the Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN). This gives a more accurate retention rate calculation, as it identifies students at either the same or a different higher education institution. In other words, if a student moves from one institution to another in the following year, he or she would be counted as retained in the adjusted retention rate calculation, but not retained in the normal retention rate calculation.  

How does the department calculate retention rate?

The Retention rate calculation involves four components – commencing students, completing students in year (x), completing students in year (x + 1) and returning students.

  • commencing students – students who have enrolled in a course at a higher education provider with a commencement date in year (x)
  • returning students – commencing students in year (x) who have an enrolment record in year (x + 1)
  • completing students in year (x) – commencing students who have a completion record in year (x) and no enrolment record in year (x + 1)
  • completing students in year (x + 1) – commencing students who have a completion record in year (x + 1) and no enrolment record in year (x + 1) and no enrolment record in year (x + 1)

Example:

  • Commencing students = 150
  • Completing students in year (x) = 21
  • Completing students in year (x + 1) = 4
  • Returning students = 110

Retention rate for year (x) = 100 x (returning students) / (commencing students – completing students in year (x) – completing students in year (x + 1))

Retention rate for year (x)

= 100 x 110 / (150 - 21 - 4)

= 100 x 110 / 125

= 88%

Application of glossary term:
  • Statistical outputs