The role of bridging programmes in supporting student persistence and prevention of attrition: A UK case study

Anna Black*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Social mobility, and in particular, intergenerational mobility, can be driven by increased opportunities for extended education. Movement beyond a family’s social class will often see positive changes to overall life satisfaction, however, this movement can introduce feelings of alienation. This in turn can lead to detachment either from the social group or, more likely, from the educational provision. As such, institutions are spending time and resources to investigate strategies for retention. This study looks at the impact of foundation year bridging programmes and the potential they have to increase course retention and persistence of students. A retrospective statistical analysis of seven academic years (using chi square) highlighted that completion of a foundation year bridging programme before a traditional undergraduate degree increased the likelihood of persistency and decreased the attrition rate of students from low participation neighbourhoods. These findings, when considered alongside seminal theoretical frameworks such as Spady, Pascarella, and Tinto, confirm the role which family and social background must play in a student’s ability to complete an undergraduate degree. Family and other social support networks are known to play a role in the provision of a supportive environment for students and the undertaking of a bridging programme allows time for the adaptation and development of new friendship groups and increase a family’s familiarity with the pressures of higher education. Higher education providers may, therefore, be able to begin to tackle attrition and improve their course retention through family education and through the encouragement of social integration via bridging programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Early online date16 Oct 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Oct 2023

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