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Estimating Scottish student retention rates using propensity score matching

Penny, Kay I; Morton, Ian D; Ashraf, Mohammed Zegham; Duffy, John C


Kay I Penny

Ian D Morton

Mohammed Zegham Ashraf

John C Duffy


The performance of institutions such as universities and colleges is of increasing interest to funders, policy makers, potential students and the establishments themselves who require accurate estimates of outcomes such as retention rates across the different institutions. The UK government has an aim of reducing the cost of non-completion by students, the institutions themselves are concerned with retaining student numbers because they affect reputation and financial health, and prospective students must choose which institution they would prefer to attend. This study controls for differences in student background characteristics in a comparison of retention of Scottish students in Scottish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with Scottish students studying at HEIs elsewhere in the UK. The latter group is known to have better retention than the former. Propensity score matching is applied to the Scottish cohort of students, as a preliminary to producing an imputation of their counterfactual outcome. The findings show that Scottish students would be approximately 2 percentage points less likely to continue their studies if they had studied in Scotland rather than studied elsewhere in the UK.


Penny, K. I., Morton, I. D., Ashraf, M. Z., & Duffy, J. C. (2013). Estimating Scottish student retention rates using propensity score matching. Leadership and policy quarterly, 2,

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 30, 2013
Deposit Date Apr 29, 2015
Print ISSN 2168-7692
Electronic ISSN 2168-7706
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2
Keywords Student retention; Higher Education; Propensity Score Matching;
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