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College drop-out rates revealed

Students studying computer science at third level are the least likely to finish their first year in college.

ONE IN FOUR students that begin a third level computer science course drop out before the end of their first year, a study published by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has found.

In contrast, students studying courses such as medicine, law, veterinary, dentistry and education (teaching) are most likely to complete their first year – with high progression rates ranging from 98 per cent to 95 per cent, reports The Irish Times.

Read the full report here: A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education.

All-in-all 85 per cent of Irish students progress from first year to second year, which compares favourably with other rates in other countries.

Tom Boland, chief executive of the HEA said:

Our higher institutions have done well to retain, and in some cases improve, high levels of retention of students over the past decade, even as the numbers have soared.

While the highest rating courses have a progression rate ranging from 98 per cent to 95 per cent, computer science course have a progression rate of just 73 per cent.

Those taking courses in science tied with the arts/humanities/business sector had a progression rate of 86 per cent. Construction and engineering courses had a progression rate of 80 per cent.

The study found that females were less likely to drop out of courses than males. It also found that prior educational attainment is heavily linked to drop-out rates, as students who had achieve the highest grades in their Leaving Certificate Examinations were the most likely to progress.

Good results in mathematics, in particular, was a positive indicator for higher education success.

The children of skilled manual workers were least likely to progress – a factor that could be caused by this socio-economic class being on the margins of qualifying for grant aid.

However, the children of professionals were highly likely to progress.

The research was based on 35,000 full-time undergraduate students who entered third-level education between 2007 and 2008.

It found that those who had secured a grant were more likely to progress in third level, with respondents indicating that the reason for this being they had a sense of financial well-being and security.

The average drop-out rate between first year and second year across Ireland’s seven universities, institutes of technology (ITs) and other colleges was 15 per cent.

In specific institutions, the rates varied. The highest drop-out rates were displayed in students on certificate level and ordinary degree courses at ITs; one quarter of those attending classes in first year.

The level fell to 16 per cent among honours degree students attending ITs, and fell again for honours degree students attending university to 9 per cent.

Just 4 per cent of students studying at teacher training colleges dropped out.

The courses with the fewest number drop outs were law at 3 per cent, and medicine at only 2 per cent.

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