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This paper examines the results of a quantitative study of the relationship between problems with academic writing and undergraduate student retention. In spite of the evidence that writing problems may affect student attrition, problems with academic writing are not listed as a separate factor in most retention models. Consequently, academic writing is not usually singled out in interventions designed to address student attrition. However, it is possible that the absence of writing issues in retention models is due to the predominant view of writing as a single element within academic studies as opposed to a complex and multi-modal process, involving students’ background and skill-acquisition, social context, behaviour and time-management, as well emotional and psychological well-being. In order to test this possibility, a survey was designed and administered to undergraduate students at an Irish university, aiming to capture student writing process awareness and writing issues within social, emotional, behavioural, and artisanal contexts. The results provide a breakdown of the challenges faced by students who see issues with academic writing as a factor in their contemplation of withdrawal, ranging from the need for more support to lack of confidence and writing anxiety. These insights can be used in designing targeted retention interventions that would address students’ problems with writing. The answers of the students who contemplated withdrawal were compared to the answers of those who did not contemplate withdrawal and those who did not connect their thoughts on withdrawal to difficulties with writing. The comparison suggests that some writing-related issues, such as the perception of writing as isolating, may also play an indirect role in student attrition. This further underscores the need to study the role of writing issues in student attrition.