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Valdosta State U Employs Business Intelligence to Improve Retention Rates

Valdosta State University (VSU) in Georgia has improved student retention rates with the help of business intelligence (BI) and information discovery tools.

Prior to implementing the tools, the university estimates that its disappointing 67 percent one-year student retention rate cost $6.5 million in lost revenue each year. To staunch the flow of students and revenue out of the university, it embarked on a multi-phase project to improve student success rates.

Phase one began in April 2012 with the implementation of Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, which includes tools such as interactive dashboards, ad hoc queries and strategy management. Phase two of the project began that fall, when VSU piloted Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, which lets the university collect and analyse student data from sources such as student surveys and ID card usage. VSU used the information from the two integrated tools to identify factors related to student success.

VSU discovered that students who eat breakfast on campus have a 10 percent higher retention rate and freshmen who work on campus have a 30 percent higher retention rate. Based on this information, the university began promoting on-campus eateries and invested $200,000 in student jobs on campus, money it anticipates recouping through $2 million in reduced retention costs over four years.

One year after the initiative began, student midterm and final grades had improved an average of 10 to 15 percent, and retention rates had improved by 2.5 percent, according to information from Oracle. VSU plans to develop more case studies with Oracle Endeca to further improve those numbers.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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