Student Retention Policy


All University staff members and students


To outline a university-wide approach to improved student retention and support


The University is committed to excellence and equity. It recognises the value of a diverse and successful student body. It recognises that some first-year students face significant challenges and have varying social and educational needs at this stage of their careers in the University. 

Retention is a measure of student success and satisfaction and a prime strategic objective of the University. From a student perspective, non-completion of a degree represents lost life opportunity, additional debt and potentially lower self-esteem. It may also represent a loss of social and economic benefits to students’ communities that would have accrued had they completed their course of study. 

The University recognises the importance of structured orientation and transition support for commencing students; personalised academic advisement services that assist students to define clear and achievable academic goals; and an inclusive learning environment that engages students socially, intellectually and professionally.


1. The successful transition of students into the University, and their retention to higher levels of study, is the joint, collaborative responsibility of all faculties, service divisions and staff in consultation with students

2.  Retention measures should address the needs of Māori students and those of students from University equity groups

3. Students are to be supported to take responsibility for their own learning, and to actively pursue success

4. All students are to be provided with structured programme advice aligned with their preparation pathway

5. The University will identify and support foundation programmes and other alternative admission pathways. These programmes and pathways must be demonstrably aligned with the curriculum and identified retention issues in undergraduate programmes

6.  Curricula are to be designed to enhance the progression of diverse student cohorts

7. Programmes and courses are to be aligned to the realisation of the University graduate profile. University staff members must encourage students to see the relevance of their study to their future careers and the needs of the communities to which they belong

8. Pastoral care and student support services must recognise the diversity of the student body and the communities from which they are drawn

Roles and responsibilities

Faculties are responsible for: 

9.   Developing, implementing and evaluating curricula that support students to evolve into confident learners, fully engaged intellectually and socially in their programmes of study 

10.  Providing accurate academic advice that assists students to define achievable academic goals and strategies for achieving them 

11.   Providing learning experiences and high quality teaching responsive to the varied learning needs of learners new to a university environment 

12.  Engaging with university-wide programmes that support first-year students and other cohorts as necessary to improve retention, including the retention of Māori and Pacific students 

13.  Delivering personalised and integrated academic advisory services in partnership with service divisions 

14.  Providing appropriate professional support in relation to retention for academic teachers 

15. Utilising relevant data to support and evaluate interventions 


The University is responsible for: 

16.  Identifying and providing access to university level data 

17.  Working with faculties and service divisions to develop, support and resource university-wide retention initiatives 

18.  Setting and monitoring appropriate retention targets 


Service divisions are responsible for: 

19.  Ensuring there is easy and timely access to services, programmes and resources for students that aid administrative, academic and social orientation, integration and support 

20.  Delivering personalised and integrated academic advisory services in partnership with the faculties 

21.  Providing co-ordinated support and appropriate advice to faculties as they enact first- year experience and retention strategies, including academic development opportunities


Students are responsible for: 

22.  Taking responsibility for their learning, and embracing an active role in succeeding to their full potential 

23.  Preparing for and attending classes as required; participating in class discussions and other activities; maintaining steady progress within the course; and submitting required work on time


The following definitions apply to this document: 

Alternative admission pathway refers to special admission to university for students without a formal University entrance qualification 

Equity groups are those most likely to have experienced one or more barriers to accessing and succeeding at the University. The University identifies equity groups including:

  • Pacific students and staff
  • Staff and students with disabilities
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) students and staff
  • Students and staff from refugee backgrounds (SSRB)
  • Students from low socio-economic backgrounds (low SEB)
  • Men or women where there are barriers to access and success 

Retention: The University follows Government’s calculation of a ‘retention’ rate as an institution-level measure of success – i.e. as the percentage of a first-year in-take of domestic-students that re-enrols at the University in the second year of any programme. As a student-level measure of success, retention can be expressed as the ‘persistence’perseverance’ or ‘progression’ of an individual towards the achievement of their educational goals 

Staff members refers to individuals employed by the University on a full or part time basis

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries

University graduate profile defines a set of attributes and capabilities that the  University considers to be attainable by graduates by the end of their degrees 

Undergraduate Targeted Admission Schemes (UTAS) groups include Māori and equity  groups for whom special provision has been made in relation to University entry  requirements


Key relevant documents

Document management and control

Owner: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)

Content manager: Director Academic Services

Approved by: Council 

Date approved: 11 December 2017 

Review date: 11 December 2020