Among the 11 institutions, several solutions have emerged as big winners. At Arizona State University, for example, its eAdvisor program has improved freshman retention rates by 9.5 percent and the six-year graduation rate by 19.3 percent.
While the biggest gains to date have come as a result of member schools adopting solutions from one another, the universities are also collaborating on new initiatives intended to bend the retention curve further. For example, Georgia State University was recently awarded an $8.9 million First in the World grant to conduct a four-year, cross-UIA study to evaluate the effectiveness of advising in improving retention and graduation rates among low-income and first-generation students.
Ultimately, UIA plans to make all of its solutions and findings public. “We want to give it all away,” said Burns. “We’re only 18-19 months in, but we’re trying to document everything we do and create templates and examples.”
Although, UIA does not plan to expand its ranks lest the coalition become too unwieldy, it is actively encouraging other schools to form partnerships of their own. UIA is also in the process of establishing a way for universities to “observe” the work. “We’re trying to create a drumbeat that going it alone is a waste of time, energy, and money,” said Burns. “We want to keep pushing for more collaborative alliances. We want to give them our strategy for collaboration. It’s a playbook and we’re trying to assemble it right.”
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