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Irish Independent - - News - Al­li­son Bray and Fiona Dil­lon

One in seven stu­dents don’t go on to sec­ond year in col­lege

AL­MOST one in five stu­dents from dis­ad­van­taged schools do not progress to third-level ed­u­ca­tion beyond their first year, com­pared to just one in 10 stu­dents who went to fee-pay­ing schools, a new study by the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Author­ity re­veals.

Some 19pc of stu­dents from DEIS – De­liv­er­ing Equal­ity of Op­por­tu­nity – schools, and 14pc of stu­dents at­tend­ing stan­dard schools do not re­turn for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons af­ter the first year, ac­cord­ing to a sta­tis­ti­cal anal­y­sis of new third-level en­trants in the 2014/2015 aca­demic year.

The HEA study also high­lighted its con­cerns at the lack of pro­gres­sion by male stu­dents in com­put­ing, engi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion cour­ses.

The ed­u­ca­tion body be­lieves there are ques­tions to be an­swered over whether stu­dents are choos­ing the wrong cour­ses, given the high drop-out rate from some cour­ses.

The re­port found that stu­dents who achieved higher Leav­ing Cert points are more likely to con­tinue with their course while the num­ber of points achieved was the strong­est in­di­ca­tor of pro­gres­sion rather than other fac­tors, such as so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus, ac­cord­ing to re­searchers.

A to­tal of 41,441 new en­trants to the higher ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem were tracked, and the HEA found that 86pc of the

2014/2015 first-year un­der­grad­u­ates and new en­trants in pub­licly funded higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions pro­gressed to sec­ond year.

This was a slight im­prove­ment on the 85pc rate from

2013/2014.

The in­sti­tu­tions in­volved in­cluded seven uni­ver­si­ties, 14 in­sti­tutes of tech­nol­ogy and six col­leges.

One of the key find­ings of the re­port was that rates of peo­ple leav­ing their course var­ied across fields of study.

For in­stance, con­struc­tion and re­lated dis­ci­plines had the high­est non-pro­gres­sion rate at

23pc, although this was down five per­cent­age points from the pre­vi­ous year’s fig­ures.

Where stu­dents were study­ing for a pro­fes­sion-ori­ented ca­reer, those pick­ing medicine were least likely to drop out, the fig­ures showed. Just 2pc did not progress to sec­ond year, com­pared to ar­chi­tec­ture which had the high­est rate at 20pc.

Com­ment­ing on the find­ings of the re­port, Dr Gra­ham Love, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the HEA, said: “There are pos­i­tive trends in the higher ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem as we see small in­creases in the pro­por­tion of stu­dents who do progress from first to sec­ond year.

“We need to en­sure that there is ad­e­quate guid­ance and in­for­ma­tion at sec­ond level.

“There is a per­sonal and fi­nan­cial cost to the in­di­vid­ual stu­dent if he or she does not com­plete their col­lege course; there is also a cost to the State,” he added.

Dr Gra­ham Love, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the HEA

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