“Ghost student” failure among equity cohorts: Towards understanding non-participating enrolments

NCSEHE Webinar

The NCSEHE will host a webinar on 15 April at 1:00 pm AEST (national times listed below), presenting new research led by Dr Bret Stephenson on “ghost student” failure in higher education.

Webinar overview

A quarter of university fail grades represent “ghost students”, who remain enrolled in undergraduate units but show no evidence of participation.

Research published by the NCSEHE in March 2021 found improved identification and support is required for “ghost students”, particularly Indigenous students who are at a high risk of ghosting behaviours.

While non-participating enrolments (NPEs) and unit failure frequently go unnoticed at institutional and national levels, this form of disengagement places an academic and financial burden on students; universities see a reduction in their publicised ‘success rates’; and governments see little return for the allocation of Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) funding. From 2022, ghosting behaviours may also contribute to student ineligibility under the new Job-Ready Graduates Package if students record fails through NPE.

The research informed important recommendations for university policy and practice, particularly focusing on students from recognised equity groups, including low socioeconomic status, regional and remote, and non-English speaking backgrounds, as well as Indigenous students.

In this free webinar, lead author Dr Bret Stephenson and colleagues from the Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity Research (CHEEDR) at La Trobe University will present key findings and recommendations from the research. This will be followed by a live Q and A session.