Applying quality tools to improve student retention supporting process: a case study from WOU
Purpose -Student retention is important in the management of any university especially one which is not financially independent. Administrators in such institutions need to investigate ways to improve the retention rate in order to avoid the loss of revenue. One of the methods is to ensure that students are able to follow their study pathway and complete their study on time instead of dropping out. The purpose of this paper is to establish a system that allows the university to monitor the
... ession of these students and highlight the need for counselling when necessary. It is also hoped that this paper helps to improve the student retention rate using quality analysis tools and add knowledge into factual-based problem-solving methodology. Design/methodology/approach -This paper is a co-relational study based on secondary data. It is a continuous improvement method adopting the "plan-do-check-action" model. Quality analysis tools adopted are failure modes and effects analysis and process mapping, where both are the quality analysis tools commonly used in solving product design or assembly process issues in manufacturing. Using the case study of Wawasan Open University, the authors will adapt the aforesaid quality analysis tools from design and manufacturing sectors into an open distance learning education design. It is hoped that the identified process facilitates certain functions of the departments of the organisation to be more effective. Findings -This paper provides a practical approach on the methods to improve the retention rate in a private higher education institute. Stakeholders are more willing to embrace the improvement when there is proper factual analysis to support the plans. A cross-departmental team is formed to brainstorm the various aspects of the process and the potential failure modes. In a resource-constrained environment, prioritisation is important to identify the high-impact problems. It is also important that a mechanism is available to deliver information to the area where decisions and actions can be made. The failure modes are prioritised systematically and the corresponding solutions installed. The end result is a system with the process that reduces interdepartmental inconsistency thus providing students with a clearer visibility of their study pathway so that they can complete their study on time instead of dropping out. Research limitations/implications -This study is performed within the context of an institute. The generalisation is low. Other researchers are encouraged to explore further. Practical implications -This paper provides some practical actions for the improvement of student retention in the university. It is hoped that other researchers will be attracted to explore further on using quality analysis tools to solve non-technical problems. Originality/value -This paper provides a structured problem-solving method in a service-oriented organisation.