Cases of Covid-19 continue to rise, and universities are facing pressure to switch back to online teaching. Students are having a university experience that is more than a little different – and are coping with constraints to their social interactions, maintaining their engagement in learning and managing their own wellbeing.

This Wonkhe @ Home event will consider what the higher education sector could do to avert a possible retention crisis this year. We’ll get a picture of what’s going on on the ground – including launching brand new research on retention we’ve been conducting this month with students’ unions – and how universities are responding to the challenges thrown up by Covid-19.

We’ll ask what support students might need to maintain engagement with learning and expand their social and academic networks safely. We’ll also consider the policy implications: should there be a national scheme for “managed exit” to help students who are struggling to cope and might otherwise slip away under the radar? What might current events mean for non-continuation as an indicator of university performance? And what, if anything, should the sector ask from governments to support students returning after Christmas?


09.30 Is the sector facing a retention crisis? 

We will launch new research on student retention conducted by Trendence UK on behalf of Wonkhe SUs. We’ll hear from student representatives what they’re seeing on the ground. And we’ll explore with senior leaders what actions they are taking to identify and support at-risk students.

10.30 Break 

11.00  What will it take to keep students engaged in learning and social activity, and maintain their wellbeing?

A panel of experts will consider the issues from the perspective of different students, and reflect on a range of interventions to support student engagement across the whole student life, from effective learning design, to building social capital safely, to managing mental health and wellbeing.

11.45 What should be the policy response? 

A discussion about the appropriate policy response. Do we need a national “exit strategy” for students who might otherwise simply fall off the radar? And what kind of policy response should the government be considering for January.

12.30 End


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