UK universities have some of the highest student drop-out rates in Europe. The average drop-out rate in the first year is around 6.3% (Social market Foundation). This figure that has been increasing for the past 5 years, and up to 37% of students have considered leaving at some point in their course. It varies from institution to institution but some universities see drop-out rates of up to 18% (whatuni.com)
The reasons students choose to stop studying vary from not choosing the right course (47%) through to concerns about finances (link). Around one-third cited mental health issues as a reason for their decision based on research by MyUniChoices. It’s undoubtedly been an extremely difficult year in the higher education sector for students and universities a like. Despite this, students are still eager to undertake degrees with record numbers applying this year. This includes a 9% increase in International students.
Despite these positive signs, many aspects that make university so appealing: the community on campus, face-to-face teaching, and accessible support services are impossible to replicate online. With these pressures, it could be that retaining students this year will be harder than ever, and drop-out rates could increase. If so, what can be done to improve the student experience and help them navigate any challenges they may face?
One solution is investing in well-designed video content. Online video is a rich and immersive format, one that can communicate complex information quickly and easily. It works for both the community and educational aspects. Video for social media, education as well as other targeted video is an ideal tool to support students and give them added value throughout university life.
So, how specifically can video and media asset better engage the those studying and help to reduce drop-out rates? Below we have a few ideas and tips to consider.
Give more information before they enrol.
As we showed above, choosing the wrong course is one of the main causes for students stopping their studies. Producing a richer breadth of content that helps prospective students make more informed decisions is a good place to start. Glossy promo videos are great to draw people in, but more in-depth material ensures they understand what to expect. Consider longer-form interviews with lecturers, conversations with current students or alumni, and don’t be afraid to discuss some of the more challenging aspects of university life. Just make sure to have good support systems to help students if they do need it.
Enhance the support services you offer.
The lack of face-to-face contact on campus means it’s more important than ever to focus this. Videos offer a rich experience, and can communicate information and guidance in more personal and natural way. Videos on how to manage finances, deal with exam pressures or access many of the other services on offer can help. This could be both pre-recorded video for the website or social, through zoom webinars and meetings both for one-to-one conversations, or group discussions and support.
Strengthen the community
Nothing can replace the on campus experience, but working with current students to create user-generated video can help build a sense of community, as well as offer peer-to-peer advice. UGC can sometimes be difficult to manage, but there are excellent apps and tools appearing now that make the process much easier than before. We have an unique app to capture this type of video content that is both easy to use, and fun for students to get involved in producing (more information here)
Add value to the learning experience.
Video is also a great resource in e-learning. Additional material to accompany lectures allows student the opportunity to recap subjects they may find more difficult, or catch up on sections they may has missed. It not only reduces stress, but makes students feel they are getting greater value from their studies, and the ability to learn at their own pace. Remember, this type of content can also be a valuable marketing tool. Some of the most watched videos on many university YouTube channels are pure educational content, and can each a wider audience.
Of course, these types of media assets are not just for now but offer longer term value. Once created can provide value and help to students for many years to come. It will be a unique year ahead, but it is worth considering how well-designed video can help engage students and enhance their time at university.