Student well-being a top priority

How Vytautas Magnus University made student well-being a top priority to tackle dropout rates

Focus area

Student retention and well-being

Inst. type



Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania aimed to increase retention of students and reduce dropout rates by improving the student experience — not just at the academic level but also the emotional level — to develop solutions that are holistic and student-centred. Additionally, with the war being waged in Ukraine, students in Eastern Europe (especially Ukrainian students fleeing from the war) were also feeling the effects of the war mentally and physically, making evaluation of student well-being increasingly necessary.

The Challenge

To tackle this challenge, Vytautas Magnus partnered with StudentPulse, a powerful microsurvey tool that can provide real-time insights into a wide network of student experiences including academic achievements, emotional stress, connectedness with the academic community, attachment to the university and many more.

In 2022, a pilot project was launched by Vytautas Magnus University in partnership with StudentPulse, which aimed to:

  • Identify possible reasons of students’ detachment from the study process and community;
  • Detect earliest signs of exclusion or indifference from students in order to begin early intervention; and
  • Provide support for Ukrainian students who had fled the war.

The Solution

The pilot project was conducted at Vytautas Magnus University in four rounds (in February, April, May and June) for a period of 14 days each. In each of the 4 rounds, students were asked 8 questions to get a gauge of their mental and emotional state and how they were currently faring in university.

Begin by casting a wide net

In the beginning, the first surveys were focused on capturing students’ main attitudes towards their study process, university and so on. After the main areas of interest to students were identified from their responses, the following surveys were then refocused more strategically to the aspects of student life that can be adjusted or experiences that can be improved.

The closer the nudge, the better it works

University faculty found that while they invited their students to participate in the surveys through a few channels, those that worked best were the ones that were more personal to the student, such as when surveys were shared with students during face to face meetings. Centralised invites via emails had the disadvantage of potentially getting lost in the large stream of emails that students received on a regular basis.

Standalone surveys for specific focus areas

A custom survey was launched at the University specially for Ukrainian students who were forced to flee their country, restart their education in a new country and acclimatise to a new culture, system, language, and expectations. The goal of this survey was to gain insight into the Ukrainian students' experience and direct students who needed extra help to the University’s student support centre.

Making new connections

The strategic and innovative collection of drivers and questions resonated well with students and targeted many aspects of student experience that had previously not been connected with the student retention process. This led to the re-evaluation of strategies used to manage student dropouts.

Enabling early detection

The pilot response helped to identify students who indicated a lack of emotional well-being and high stress, which could result in avoidance, detachment from the study process and eventually lead to these students dropping out from their studies. Through StudentPulse, the University is now able to gain insight and take early preventive strategies for such students.

Supporting Ukrainian students in need

30% of the Ukrainian students surveyed chose to utilise StudentPulse’s Student Connector feature to be redirected to a special Ukrainian page to receive extra support from the University and reported an average satisfaction of above 90% after!

“They have been a pleasure to work with as they seem to have a genuine desire to make life better for their students” ‍

Rune Sønderby

Student Experience Director, StudentPulse