Retention rates initiative

July 27, 2007

Memo from the Office of the Vice Chancellor
To: All Academic Staff
Subject: Dropout rates

It has been brought to my attention that the University of Poppleton takes first place in the Bottom Ten Retention list published in last week's Times Higher. However, an inspection of the chart (see below) shows that only a small improvement would dramatically improve our position.

Retention: Bottom Ten

Non-continuation following year of entry

Poppleton University                39.2%
Uttoxeter University                   34.6%
Old Sarum University                31.7%
HM Open Prison Poppleton      24.6%

Although these figures are disappointing, they fail to take into account the following special factors that uniquely impact upon this university's retention rate:

1. Worst fears confirmed

At Poppleton we have always regarded it as part of our mission to recruit the type of students who did not wish to enter higher education in the first place and who are therefore more prone than others to find their worst fears confirmed.

2. Inadequacy of traditional retention methods

There are some grounds for believing that one of our present methods for improving retention (second-year tagging) may have been counterproductive.

3. External attractions

Unlike other university towns [Mrs Dilworth, insert names] Poppleton benefits from a vigorous urban street scene (Jumping Jaks night-spot and the Diamond Dolls lap-dancing club) that offers a potent cultural alternative to the campus social life.

4. Exceptional features

Present retention figures have been artificially inflated by last year's mass escape of 146 students through a tunnel under the campus defensive wall.

New proposals

We are confident that measures now being put in place will serve to improve our retention figures in the future going forward. We have particular faith in a new scheme, which will offer substantial cash bonuses for those successfully completing their course. (This initiative is not to be confused with the "cash for honours" scheme currently featured in the national press).

I hope this clarifies the situation.

The Vice-Chancellor
(signed in his absence by Mrs Dilworth)

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