Reducing the Rate of Student Attrition at Bastyr University

bastyr univerity  and kai analytics

Bastyr University, one of the leading schools of naturopathic medicine in the United States, wanted to identify what was causing lower student satisfaction scores, and thus engagement, at their campuses. So they turned to Kai Analytics to quantify their student satisfaction surveys in a way that was faster, more intuitive and minimized bias.


Student attrition costs American higher education an estimated $37 billion a year, with a 30% first-year attrition rate. Naturally, Bastyr University wanted to reduce their attrition rate, which meant better understanding student feedback (31% of respondents in a 2020 survey of American and Canadian higher education professionals listed student surveys as the most valuable open-ended survey for their school.). By analyzing hundreds of open-ended student survey responses, we were able to give Bastyr real insight into what they could do to make their students happier and reduce their attrition rate.

infographic - Improved approval rates to 91%.

Improved approval rates to 91%.

Kai Analytics was able to analyze the raw comments from our respondents quickly to identify the biggest areas of focus. The report he produced was clear and provided us with the resources to draft an effective communique back to our community and implement the necessary changes.

Portrait of Senior Woman
infographic - Overall attrition improved from by 4%, saving an estimated $259,000 of Revenue.

Overall attrition improved from by 4%, saving an estimated $259,000 of Revenue.

What we did

We polled over 1,000 students at Bastyr University on how they felt about the quality of education in their program and how the quality of campus services measured up to their expectations. We then rated responses using the net promoter score to gauge how students feel about their program. Using text analysis, Kai Analytics identified five key themes in student responses and summed them up in a report that was easy to digest for the non-expert.

infographic - Improved survey response rates to 59%.

Improved survey response rates to 59%.

Learn how we can help improve your student retention.

3 Big Highlights

Hearing what Students Had to Say

We helped identify 5 key issues that the university could address right away by analyzing trends in student responses.

  1. Upgrading printers across campus

  2. The need for more community and study space

  3. The importance that different food options held for students

  4. The importance of successful clinical training

  5. The need for increased campus security

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Digital Work Life

Students Recognized their Voices were Heard

After steps were taken to address the key issues identified in the survey results, we followed up with stakeholders. We helped draft an email to students that outlined the actions taken by the university to address their concerns and show them that their voices were heard. This email was one of the key actions that helped improve response rates.

Know the Cost of Student Attrition

All the themes we identified were described in one way or another by the hundreds of students who responded to the survey. Text analysis made it possible to glean these insights while sidestepping the tedious process of processing each response individually, in a similar process to the graph below. By relying on statistical processes, we mitigated human bias. To read more about this process check out our blog post on the power of natural language processing in higher education.

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