The University of Limerick has welcomed the announcement that it has a stong student retention rate in comparison with all Irish higher education institutions as announced by the HEA today. UL's non-presence rate, measuring the drop off rate of first year students from 2008 to 2009 as measured by the HEA, was found to be 9% which was significantly better than the majority of other higher education institutions in Ireland.
The University of Limerick has pursued a comprehensive learner support strategy over the last decade with the development of a number of Learning support centres as well as the establishment of a comprehensive and sustained orientation programme for incoming students each year. The University has also designed peer support initiatives for students and by stimulating teaching and learning innovations has developed expert techniques in study skills development and promoting experiential learning.
Speaking about the publication, by the HEA, of higher education retention levels, Professor Paul McCutcheon, Vice President Academic and Registrar at UL said 'we place a lot of emphasis on supporting all students on our academic programmes and in particular easing the transition from second level to third level by providing special guidance and care for first year students entering the University. We have a number of Learning Support Centres on campus to lend personal support including advice and guidance to students such as the Science Learning Centre, the Maths Learning Centre, Study Skills Modules, the Regional Writing Centre and the Language Centre. Access to personal tuition and additional learning resources are open to all our students. This commitment to fostering our first years has been reflected in the low drop out rate by University of Limerick students as detailed by the HEA today.'
In demonstration its commitment to incoming first year students UL has recently launched the First Seven Weeks, an orientation programme designed to provide strong, enhanced and targeted support to students during the very early weeks of their time at UL. The Programme was developed as a result of research carried out by the UL Centre for Teaching and Learning which has shown that this first seven weeks time period is crucial for new students to be introduced to, and become familiar with, the facilities, services, support systems, and opportunities that are available to them on campus.
Speaking about the issue of student retention and the First Seven Weeks Programme Professor Sarah Moore, Associate Vice President Academic at UL, said that 'research has shown us that incoming students who do not engage with certain aspects of university life in their first number of weeks on campus are much less likely to avail of these supports effectively in the longer term. We have seen that to fulfil their learning potential, students must be fully supported from the very first days of their time at University."