New range of initiatives to address GMIT retention rates

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 Press Office
Press Release

New Retention Officer, Maths Learning Centre, Academic Writing Centre and more...

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) has introduced a range of measures to address the Institute’s retention rates which will aid first year students complete their programmes of study.

GMIT’s Academic Council has approved a new Retention Strategy which includes the appointment of the Institute’s first Retention Officer, Carmel Brennan, who is a highly experienced academic manager. This appointment will support and build on the work carried out at GMIT over the past two years such as:

Establishment of a Maths Learning Centre and Academic Writing Centre;

Capital investment of €1m for the School of Science;

Extended Student Induction Programme “The First Five Weeks”;

PASS (Peer Assisted Student Support) programme involving second, third and fourth years helping first years;

Introduction of un-denominated programmes in Science and Business which gives first years up to a year and a half to decide which area they want to specialise in as they progress;

A number of online initiatives aimed at preparing second level pupils for third level transition such as the “The Transitions – Learning Journey” Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) which is currently being piloted with GMIT and  several second-level schools.  

Through significant investment in the facilities aligned to each programme, a new plan, approved in 2015 by the Governing Body of GMIT and being implemented by GMIT President Dr Fergal Barry, along with a commitment of a capital investment of €3.5m over three years, will:

-Enhance programme performance across the institute;
-See the development of more student centred concept-based curricula and;
-Support the retention efforts of programme boards responsible for the development and monitoring of programmes.

“GMIT is committed to providing our students with the tuition, support and facilities necessary to succeed in their chosen programme of study” explained Dr Barry. “Non-progression rates are a concern for every higher education institution and at GMIT we will continue to work tirelessly to address this issue by highlighting retention as our priority. At GMIT we will ensure students receive every possible opportunity for success with their studies from year one through to graduation.”

“Our non-progression rate is consistent with the national average of one in five students, and there are many underlying reasons for this. All of our new students are registered whether they pay straight away or not. In addition to financial reasons, there can sometimes be personal reasons why students might not progress to the second year of their programme, and it is also possible that a small percentage of students find themselves in the wrong programme of study, some students withdraw from a programme of study and reapply the following year and some are unfortunately unsuccessful in their examinations. These factors help put our retention rate into context.”    

Along with the €1m capital investment which has been committed to the School of Science, GMIT will invest an additional €3.5m in the development of new laboratories, theatres and additional teaching supports. For every €1m invested in GMIT, there is a return of €8m to the local economy. “This is one of the highest type 2 multipliers of all the universities and institutes of technology” Dr Barry explained “and GMIT students graduate with a valuable piece of parchment, and our first destination responses show they are experiencing a 92% employment rate within six months of graduation.”

Dr Barry continued on to say “GMIT is aware of the changing needs of students, and are eager to help break down all barriers to success for students by ensuring the necessary supports are in place by implementing new strategies and services, aiding them on their path to achieving their degree.”

GMIT’s Retention Strategy, approved by the Institute’s Academic Council and Governing Body, and was recently implemented across its Schools and centres.  The following are initiatives to address non-progression:

Pre-Entry – GMIT is committed to enhancing the information available to potential students in relation to programmes and careers.  GMIT expanded its Open Day plans to include a range of challenge activities relevant to disciplines. Graduates now participate and meet with and talk to potential applicants about the career opportunities arising from particular programmes of study. The Institute’s next open day is on Saturday, 23 January at the Dublin Road Campus and the Centre for Creative Arts and Media (CCAM) campus, on Monivea Road.

Entry actions – GMIT’s First Year Experience (FYE) programme will support students making the transition to third level, and equip them with the knowledge, skills and social support to do so effectively.  FYE activities include an extended five-week induction programme, a Learning & Innovation Skills module, and peer mentoring.

Learning support actions – GMIT works with staff to ensure a teaching style that fosters high levels of student engagement leading to persistence, success and, ultimately, graduation.  Work placements are also being rolled out throughout the college.

Learner support actions - In 2014, GMIT established a Maths Learning Centre and an Academic Writing Centre, to support students on a one-to-one basis as and when they require it

Exit Actions - GMIT is working with Galway Roscommon Education Training Board (GRETB) to develop a programme for students who withdraw from GMIT due to wrong programme choice.  The programme will help students develop the skills required to succeed in college, and explore college programme options in detail.  Graduates of the programme will automatically be eligible for first year re-entry to GMIT’s degree programmes.

Organisation actions – GMIT has appointed a Retention Officer who will work with academic staff to investigate and resolve the reasons for student withdrawal.

Monitoring & reporting actions – GMIT has had considerable success in improving retention in some discipline areas, and now seeks to learn from this and roll it out across other disciplines.  In addition, the Institute intends to develop a system that identifies students at risk of performing poorly or leaving their programme of study so that they may receive timely supports and programme transfer options.