Development of a Model for Retention of MS/MPhil Students at Virtual University (VU) of Pakistan

Development of a Model for Retention of MS/MPhil Students at Virtual University (VU) of Pakistan

Muhammad Yasir Rafiq (Liaoning Technical University, Liaoning, China), Mueen Ud-Din Azad (University of Management and Technology (UMT), Lahore, Pakistan), Aamer Rafique (Virtual University of Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan) and Lu Shi Chang (Liaoning Technical University, Liaoning, China)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJDET.2020040101
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Due to the of use of ICTs and ODL, Virtual University (VU) has become one of leading distance learning university in Pakistan. However, the retention rate among online learners found considerably low. The primary objective of this research was to dig out determinants of retention of MS /MPhil students at VU and modeling their retention by considering important influences. For sampling purpose, three departments with the most students were considered and complete enumeration was done. There were 4,608 students from three departments; Computer Science & Technology, Management Sciences and Education have been included in this study. To dig out the important retention factors, this research has used a Chi-Square test, optimal scaling, a decision tree using CHAID analysis, and then developed a suitable model for student retention. Binary logistic regression techniques were applied. Results have revealed that gender, scholarship, province, location, and division are significant factors and contributing in predicting students' retention at VU. Detailed outputs are shown in respective tables and figures. At the end, different recommendations and suggestions are proposed.
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1. Introduction

Student retention has increasingly been the topic of many studies carried out by researchers and educational institutions since the 1970s and progressively more during the last decade. By focusing on and identifying different factors, a range of different theories and conclusions has been established about student retention. Khuong (2014) found in their study that, during the 1970’s, emphasis was given to extracurricular activities to deliver a broader learning experience for the first-year college student. In the 1980’s, the focus was given to identifying and exploring the connections between student retention and the educational and social backgrounds of the students. Thereafter, during the 1990’s it was examined that external factors affected student retention as much as institutional internal factors (Raju & Schumacker, 2015). Subsequently, during the twenty-first century, different models have been established based on previous studies by highlighting internal and external factors including demographical, environmental, psychological, technological, sociological and economic issues as well as the institutional services provided to the students (Perera & Abeysekera, 2015).

With the radical advances in technology and changes in the educational practices, virtual learning has increasingly become a tool to address challenges in the education area. By using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), Virtual Learning provides much better education opportunities to more people, eliminating time and place barriers to get education and reaching wider masses. Virtual learning offers an ample variety of skill-oriented training courses, increasing educational opportunities in line with teachers and learners’ desired speed. In spite of all these advantages, the drop rate ratio among the distance learning students is much higher than the students who are learning in conventional classroom environment at higher education level (Beer & Lawson, 2017).

Pakistan is placed as the sixth world’s most populated country, its most population is living in the rural areas. According to the survey report of World Bank (2015), Pakistan has an overall literacy rate of 44% (58% men and 29% women). However, a few steps for extensive development related to basic education in rural areas and higher education in remote cities have been taken by the government and NGOs through public-private partnership during the past decade (National Education Policy, 2017). For instance, during 2014-15, Federal Government, through Higher Education Commission (HEC), provided more than PKR 78 billion for higher education in the country, which forms 60% of the total public sector expenditure on university education in Pakistan. During the same year, Federal Government invested 77% of its total education budget for higher education, whereas provinces have spent only 10 to 13% of their education budget for higher education (I-SAPS, Public Financing of Education in Pakistan, 2016.National Education Policy, 2017). As a result, Pakistani Universities are progressively increasing their position not only in Asia but world widely.

The Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) and Virtual University of Pakistan (VU) are the two largest and oldest distance learning institutes in Pakistan. Virtual University is a public-sector university that was established vide Ordinance No. LII of 2002. It is first Pakistani university that is operating on Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) and Online Distance Education System vis-a-vis Learning Management System (LMS). The motto of VU is to provide the international standard education to the masses at their doorstep on low fee. It is delivering quality contents to the students in the country and abroad, also have great positive impact on socio-economic growth. Due to flexibility in learning and time, it is considered best university for females and people on jobs retrieved from (

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