Retention is a challenge for all third level institutions and retention rates remain lower than colleges would like them to be. This has intensified in recent years as participation in higher education has increased and diversified. Student satisfaction and retention represents an important concern for colleges which must understand the reasons why students may choose to leave a programme. While student satisfaction and retention is a well-researched topic, there remain questions to be answered in terms of the factors that lead to non-completion. The aim of this research is to gain a greater understanding of the factors that lead to dissatisfaction and non-completion among third level students in Ireland. This research analyses data from 10,110 respondents of the Eurostudent survey, a survey of student attitude and satisfaction which is administered to all third level students in Ireland. A predictive model was developed and analysed using regression analysis and decision tree analysis. In line with literature reviewed, satisfaction with the student‟s college, teaching quality, teaching staff, facilities, finances, accommodation and friendship, feeling interested, calm and in good spirits, and the extent to which students exercise, were found to be significant predictors of student satisfaction. In contrast to literature reviewed, this study did not find that social status or income represented predictors of student satisfaction. This research contributes to academic literature and provides greater understanding of the factors that impact on student satisfaction. This study identifies important areas for Higher Education Institutions in Ireland to focus their attention as they endeavour to improve student satisfaction and retention rates.

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