Bridging the Gap Between Access and Persistence in Higher Education in the Caribbean
A Call for Institutional Action
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.