The number of people engaging in higher education (HE) has increased considerably over the past decade. However, there is a need to achieve a balance between increasing access and bearing down on rates of non-completion. It has been argued that poor attainment and failure within the first year are significant contributors to the overall statistics for non-progression and that, although research has concentrated on factors causative of student withdrawal, less attention has focused on students who fail academically. This study investigated the effects of a number of a number of factors on the academic attainment of first-year undergraduates within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Glamorgan. Results showed that gender and age had only minor impacts upon educational achievement, while place of residence, prior educational attainment and attendance emerged as significant predictors of attainment. Further analysis showed these three factors to be interrelated , with attendance correlating strongly with both entry points and place or residence. In turn, prior attainment was strongly linked to place of residence. Findings may be used to identify and proactively target students at risk of poor academic performance and dropout in order in order to improve rates of performance and progression.