Student boot camp 1

November 11, 2005

The article on changing attitudes in Army training from "how do I ensure no one gets through who doesn't deserve it?" to "how do I get as many people as possible up to standard?" has resonance for universities ("Attention! Top brass agree new manoeuvre", November 4).

A US professor suggests that institutions fall into two categories - "survivalists", who see their role as ensuring that only the fittest students survive, and "supportists", who realise that many students need high levels of support to succeed. But supportist institutions are riddled with survivalists, which means that institutional attitudes to student retention are as ambivalent as the Army's attitudes to new recruits.

I believe that student retention will become a big issue with the introduction of top-up fees. Perhaps we need a national centre for student retention studies to take these issues forward?

Ormond Simpson
Open University

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