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Enhancing academic support for students in higher education

Kasun Gomis (The School of Engineering and Computing, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)
Mandeep Saini (Salford Business School, University of Salford, Manchester, UK)
Chaminda Pathirage (School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
Mohammed Arif (Enterprise and External Engagement, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, UK)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 26 April 2024

Issue publication date: 27 June 2024




The need to enhance student support is evident in higher education (HE) curricula. In addition to the complications created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the current strategies used in academia are criticised for their lack of appropriate student support in HE. The study focused on the themes under Section 4 of the National Student Survey (NSS): availability to contact tutors, receiving good advice and guidance and availability of good advice. The study aimed to provide recommendations for enhancing academic support by developing drivers that need implementation during course delivery.


A documental analysis and a qualitative survey were adopted for this study. A documental analysis of 334 mid-module reviews (MMRs) from levels three to six students in the built environment (BE) discipline. Critical themes identified from the MMRs were fed forward in developing a questionnaire for academics. A sample of 23 academics, including a Head of school, a Principal lecturer, Subject leads and Lecturers, participated in the questionnaire survey. Content analysis is adopted through questionnaire data to develop drivers to enhance academic support in BE. These drivers are then modelled by interpretive structural modelling (ISM) to identify their correlation to NSS Section 4 themes. A level partition analysis establishes how influential they are in enhancing academic support.


The study identified nine drivers, where two drivers were categorised as fundamental, two as significant, four as important, and one insignificant in enhancing academic support in HE. Module leaders’/tutors’ improving awareness and detailing how academic support is provided were identified as fundamental. Differentiating roles in giving advice and the importance of one-to-one meetings were identified as significant. A level partitioning diagram was developed from the nine drivers to illustrate how these drivers need to be implemented to promote the best practices in academic support in HE.

Practical implications

The identified drivers and their categories can be used to set prioritised guidelines for academics and other educational institutions to improve students’ overall satisfaction.


Novelty from the study will be the developed drivers and the level partitioning diagram to assist academics and academic institutions in successfully integrating academic support into HE curricula.



The data obtained for the study was based on a project guided by a steering committee within the University of Wolverhampton, chaired by Professor Mohammed Arif. Credit must be given to Dr Brian Shiplee, Dr Luigi Pintacuda, Dr Ezekiel Chiniyo and Dr Kang Kang Tang for their significant input on the data collection. Furthermore, the authors appreciate the students' and academic participants' insightful comments.


Gomis, K., Saini, M., Pathirage, C. and Arif, M. (2024), "Enhancing academic support for students in higher education", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 324-339.



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