Retention rates are identified as an indicator of performance in the TEQSA threshold standards, and in the DIISRTE Higher Education Performance framework which sets targets for completion,
The retention indicator looks at the rate at which students from a program or equity group are retained from the previous year. It is calculated as a percentage: R = r(current yr)/(N(prev yr) – C(prev yr)) where r(current yr) is the number of students from the previous year’s group who enrolled again in the current year. N(prev yr) is the number of students from the group who were enrolled in the previous year, and C(prev yr) is the number of students from the group who completed their course in the previous year. Calculations are based on March 31 readings for each year.
Calculations for retention often highlight transfers from one program to another. Although these are not strictly lost enrolments, they can still highlight issues with a program, and although attrition rates for programs do vary, a rate of 20% or higher would characterise the outcomes of the ten universities in Australia with the worst retention outcomes.