Student graduating

Anglia Ruskin University sees increase in student retention with OpenAthens Reporting API

01 June 2021 • Cintia Trigonopoulos, product marketer

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) is an innovative, global university located in Cambridge, Chelmsford, London and Peterborough. It was voted one of the top 40 universities in the UK in 2021 and has been named one of the top 350 institutions in the world for five successive years. With students from 185 countries, it has always been one of ARU’s core values to maintain an organized and positive library experience for its students.


Working with OpenAthens for over 20 years, ARU has experienced our transition from being a service provider with only six resources to now having four million end-users.

We spoke to Alex Collins, application analyst at ARU, about his recent implementation and use of the Reporting API tool, which extracts OpenAthens patron-usage data into existing data-visualization software, such as Tableau or Power BI, enhancing the library staff’s capabilities to make data-based decisions for the benefit of their organization.

Alex, who has been using the Reporting API tool to keep track of student retention, says:

"The help that we have received from OpenAthens has been great. From getting us started 20 years ago to now getting us the API key – we haven’t had any issues at all."

Alex Collins, application analyst


ARU wants to make sure that its students get the most out of their university experience and courses, however, every university sees some students struggle to keep up with their peers. Recognizing the need to help those who are in danger of failing their classes, ARU sought out alternative measures.

"We work with students who are noted not to be engaging with a course or who appear to be struggling. There was previously no way for us to measure student activity."

Alex Collins, application analyst


What started as a service that the library was using for basic statistics on resource usage has quickly turned into something much more beneficial for the whole university.

In the academic year of 2013-2014, the new Vice-Chancellor decided that the student retention figures needed improving. As a result, ARU started using OpenAthens for statistical purposes. Reporting API allows university administrators to easily extract their OpenAthens patron-usage data into existing data visualization software, which enhances their capabilities to make data-based decisions for the benefit of the organization.

"We set up metrics to measure student engagement. We wanted to spot students that were struggling and not living up to their full potential. Then we could help them and directly improve our retention figures. We put together a huge click-view model which pulls data in from various systems. Tutors can now access the data from that click-view model by student, group, class, course or module."

Alex Collins, application analyst

Benefits and results  

Two years on, the reports showed that ARU has considerably improved student retention.

"The Reporting API has allowed us to automate the feed into our student engagement dashboard. It has enabled us to work with students who are not engaging with their course."

Alex Collins, application analyst

When asked how OpenAthens has helped Alex in his role, he replied:

"As the sole OpenAthens administrator at ARU, all data requests have to go through me. Removing the workload of generating reports has been invaluable."

Student graduating

Would you like to know more about reporting?

Watch the recoding of our webinar with Anglia Ruskin University and Nescot College tittled ‘Reporting: showcasing the impact of the library to your organisation’.

We discussed the importance of reporting and the key metrics you need to look out for, whether it is to identify bottlenecks, improve services or better allocate budgets. We had a roundtable with Alex Collins, application analyst at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), and Cristina Ruiz de Asua, academic librarian at Nescot College, where they discussed how they use reporting in their overall strategy and best practices. We also had a Q&A session towards the end of the event.

Watch the recording