Irish higher education: three further thoughts

NUIG quad, via NUIG websiteBy way of a brief update on my two recent posts about third level policy, a story in yesterday’s papers caught my eye. First, a report in the Irish Times:

Less than 15% in some Dublin areas going to college

Less than 15 per cent of Leaving Cert students in some poorer areas of Dublin are progressing to third level, according to the 2010 Irish Times feeder school list published today. … In stark contrast, most schools in south Dublin have a progression rate of 100 per cent; every one of their students who sat the Leaving Cert this year has progressed to third level.

The new figures come amid renewed controversy about the impact of the abolition of third-level fees in 1995 and as students face increased registration charges in next month’s budget. The list appears to show that “free fees” have have had only a marginal impact in boosting participation levels in poorer areas. …

The Irish Times also publishes a separate list focusing on progression rates to high-points courses, mostly in the university sector. This list is dominated by feepaying schools. …

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to locate either list on the Irish Times website. The Irish Independent has a similar story:

Parents buying school success, figures reveal

More than 90pc of students who sat the Leaving Cert in fee-paying or grind schools went on to higher education, figures compiled by the Irish Independent reveal. … In total, students who had studied for the Leaving Cert in either fee-paying or grind schools made up one in every eight of those who enrolled in college in September.

By contrast, the average transfer rate for schools in the free education scheme was lower. It varied from below 10pc for schools in disadvantaged areas to an impressive 100pc for some schools, particularly Gaelscoileanna, such as Colaiste Eoin and Colaiste Iosagain in Stillorgan, Co Dublin. …

Dr Selina McCoy from the Economic and Social Research Institute said: “Given the nature of the intake to fee-paying schools, you would expect a large proportion to progress to higher education. … What we really need to focus on in future research is the extent to which schools add value or make a difference in enabling students to successfully compete for higher education entry.”

Again, I haven’t been able to locate if the Irish Independent has made available online the figures that they have compiled in this regard.

These developments come as a survey of education and skills by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) shows that

75% of employers are satisfied with the calibre of graduates from Irish higher education institutions. However, employers also felt graduates fell down on their people skills and their ability to work independently. … The ability to work autonomously, ‘attitudinal’ and ‘people-related’ skills were ranked as the top three gaps in graduates’ competence.

The full survey is available here.