Bridging the Gap Between Access and Persistence in Higher Education in the Caribbean

A Call for Institutional Action

  • Saran Stewart University of the West Indies
  • Nicola Paterson University of the West Indies
  • Shenhaye Ferguson University of the West Indies

Abstract

Currently, Caribbean higher education institutions benefit from relatively high retention rates among students, however they have seen a rise in low on-time, graduation rates. Given this context, this study applies Tinto’s theoretical framework (1975) for understanding and identifying the causes of low student retention and graduation rates at a regional university in Jamaica. Within a United States context, this institution would be considered a predominantly minority-serving institution such as historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) given its large population of Black students. Analysing data from the university’s Student Experience Survey, the results indicate that, academic performance and financial issues were leading factors to non-returning students and low graduation rates. The findings reflect that full-time status is the strongest predictor of GPA and on-time graduation. To bridge the gap between access and persistence, we suggest strategies to improve issues of inequities and academic engagement at both the individual and institutional level.

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Author Biographies

Saran Stewart, University of the West Indies

SARAN STEWART, PhD, Saran Stewart, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Comparative Higher Education, Faculty of Humanities and Education, University of the West Indies, Jamaica.

Nicola Paterson, University of the West Indies

NICOLA PATERSON, Office of Planning and Institutional Research, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.

Shenhaye Ferguson, University of the West Indies

SHENHAYE FERGUSON, MA Graduate, Higher Educational Management, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Saran Stewart, School of Education, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Kingston 7, Jamaica. saran.stewart@uwimona.edu.jm.

Published
2017-12-01
Section
Articles