Student psychometric data to help combat attrition rates

Leeds Beckett University is offering digital psychometric tests to students to identify and support those that are at risk of dropping out

Over 17,000 students at Leeds Beckett University will be offered the opportunity to take part in a new initiative that uses psychometric assessments to combat rising attrition rates. The first of its kind in the UK, the programme uses psychometric assessments to profile students and gauge their personality types. Lecturers, tutors and members of the university can then use these to identify those most vulnerable or likely to drop out, so additional support can be offered.  

As one of the largest universities in the UK, Leeds Beckett University hopes the programme will reduce student attrition rates, leading the way in combatting this growing issue.

The latest figures from HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) suggest that 6% of first year students give up their place within the first 12 months, costing universities £33,000 per student.

The Personal Profile Analysis (PPA), carried out by Thomas International, will provide a profile detailing each student’s strengths and limitations, their communication style, what motivates them, their basic fears and how they behave under pressure.

Claire Aydogan, Head of Student and Graduate Futures at Leeds Beckett University, said: “During the last two years, over 700 students took part in a private study at the university to judge the benefits of PPA assessments for both students and members of the university. This pilot scheme enabled us to identify a number of students who needed additional support and would have been at risk of withdrawing.”

“We had hugely positive feedback from the university staff, who were trained by Thomas International in PPA and used the insights to understand the best way to manage, motivate and engage with students – helping them reach their full potential.” 

Following the success of the pilot scheme in 2016, the initiative has now been rolled out across the university. Thomas International will make PPA psychometric assessments available for all students starting at Leeds Beckett University this September.

Ciaran Morton, Managing Director at Thomas International, said: “School and university are worlds apart in terms of the environment. Academically, students go from school, where structure and guidelines are in place, to university where it is much more about self-motivation. On a personal and social level, adjusting to the university lifestyle is also a huge change. The PPA assessments reveal all aspects of a student’s personality, so that the faculty can be aware of those who are most at risk of not adjusting and can offer extra support from the start to those who need it.”

PPA for university and beyond

The PPA psychometric assessments and analysis will also support students while they are at university and beyond. During their university careers, students can use information gained from PPA to recognise their own personality types and ensure they are playing to their strengths. The data also enables students to clearly articulate to potential employers what skills and qualities they can bring to organisations when applying for jobs and internships after graduation.

Psychometrics and technology

As part of the project, Leeds Beckett University has partnered with IT solutions company, DTP Group, to capture large amounts of data from students when using their student cards across the campus. Tracking when and where students most commonly tap into resources, such as printers or canteens, will also be used as a measure of student engagement. Deployed alongside PPA assessments, the university hopes that this will further feed into the information needed to prevent attrition rates rising.   

Results from the initiative will be analysed at the end of the academic year. Claire Aydogan concludes: “With over 25,000 students, Leeds Beckett is one of the largest universities in the country. Our aim now is to act as a pioneer, proving that dropout rates can successfully be lowered using psychometric assessments.”  


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