Reducing withdrawal of students is an important success factor of many higher education institutes. The current study examined students’ contemplation about withdrawing from their course, in relation to perceptions of specific academic experiences (e.g. class sizes; use of technology enhanced learning; one-to-one time with lecturers). Common with much research in this domain, the study used a prospective approach that asked current students about the possibility of future withdrawal. This differs from the concepts of retention and completion that rely on knowledge of actual student outcomes. Consequently, a distinguishing term – early withdrawal – is used throughout the article. The overarching aim is to filter a range of academic experiences down to those with the strongest links to contemplation of withdrawal.
Using data from an institutional survey (N = 1170), the authors studied a range of academic experiences, regarding their relationship to students’ contemplation of withdrawal. The findings of this study indicate a need to consider methods for increasing one-to-one contact with lecturing staff, and interactions between students. The results also support strong pre-entry and induction processes to prepare students for teaching approaches that they will encounter in HE. Finally, there appears to be value in a continued focus on assessment, to ensure that students can demonstrate knowledge and skill without being overwhelmed by assessments