Student success and retention: What’s academic skills got to do with it?


As the importance of student success and retention in higher education increases, the need for academic support is also crucial to assist the growing number of students from diverse backgrounds. This study assessed whether the attendance of students for an Academic Skills consultation made any difference in terms of performance, success, GPA, and attrition. Over 13,000 student consultations with Academic Skills in 2017, 2018 and 2019 were matched in the University Management Information System to allow derivation of metrics. The findings indicate that students who attended Academic Skills performed better than those who did not attend Academic Skills and the difference is greater for those who attended more consultations. Student GPA was also higher and more students completed their degree as a result. A recommendation is made for universities to strategically position and resource academic language and learning support services in order to enhance the student experience.

Author Biographies

Sally Ann Ashton-Hay, Southern Cross University

Sally Ashton-Hay is a Lecturer (Teaching Scholar) in the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students) at Southern Cross University. She enjoys assisting students with learning strategies for more successful study, team teaching across disciplines and embedding academic skills in the curriculum. Her broad range of teaching experience covers academic writing, English language arts, English as an Additional Language, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Indigenous learners, literacy skills, drama, poetry and literature as well as conducting teacher training internationally. Sally has previously worked as a Senior English Language Fellow sponsored by the U.S. Department of State in Turkey and is a registered with the U.S. Department of State as an English Language Specialist.

Naomi Doncaster, Southern Cross University

Naomi is the Manager, Office of Planning Quality and Review, Southern Cross University, Lismore. New South Wales.

How to Cite
Ashton-HayS. A., & DoncasterN. (2021). Student success and retention: What’s academic skills got to do with it?. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 15(1), 102-116. Retrieved from
Research Articles