Increasing student engagement within higher education academic support services is a constant challenge. Whilst engagement with support is positively associated with successful retention, and non-engagement connected to attrition, the most vulnerable students are often the least likely to engage. Our data has shown that Health Science students are reluctant to engage with academic support services despite being made aware of their academic deficiencies. The "psychology of seeking support" was used as a lens to identify some of the multifaceted issues around student engagement. The School of Health Sciences made attendance at support courses compulsory for those students who were below the benchmark score in a post entrance literacy test. Since the policy change was implemented, there has been a 50% reduction in the fail rate of "at risk" students in a core literacy unit. These findings are encouraging and will help reduce student attrition in the long term.


health sciences, academic support, student engagement, first year



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