'SERPS Up': support, engagement and retention of postgraduate students - a model of postgraduate support

Margaret Alston, Julaine Allan, Karen Bell, Andy Brown, Jane Dowling, Patricia Hamilton, Noela McKinnon, Rol Mitchell, Kerri Whittenbury, Bruce Valentine, Alison Wicks, Rachael Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The federal government's 1999 White Paper Knowledge and Innovation: a policy statement on research and research training, notes concerns about retention and completion rates in doctoral studies programs in Australia. This paper outlines a model of higher education support developed at the Centre for Rural Social Research at Charles Sturt University. The postgraduate student body in the Centre represent the most vulnerable to attrition--mostly female and mature-aged, a majority studying at a distance and part-time, and most with family and work responsibilities. The program developed in the Centre--the SERPS model (Support, Engagement and Retention of Postgraduate Students)--has seen a significant rise in the number of students studying through the Centre and significantly high retention and completion rates. This paper outlines the model as well as the results of an evaluation of the model conducted with students in the Centre. This paper indicates that retention (and ultimately completion) is linked to the vibrancy of the learning and social support networks established for the students and the creation of a collegial culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-190
Number of pages19
JournalAustralian Journal of Adult Learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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