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Number of students in higher education continues to grow as sector takes in €1.1bn in fees

New figures show that Ireland’s undergraduate population has grown by 8% over the last five years.

Image: RollingNews.ie

THE NUMBER OF students enrolled in undergraduate courses in Ireland has continued to rise, with new figures revealing that there are now 232,000 people in higher education in Ireland.

Latest statistics from the Higher Education Authority have revealed that 44,124 people enrolled in undergraduate courses last year, with 80% of these studying for an honours Bachelor Degree.

More than 10,000 students are also engaged in full-time and part-time postgraduate research, with 80% of these students enrolled full-time.

The figures were published in the authority’s ‘Higher Education: Key Facts and Figures‘ document, which show that Ireland’s undergraduate population has grown by 8% over the last five years.

According to the authority, ‘Arts & Humanities’ and ‘Business, Administration & Law’ are the most popular fields of new study, with almost 18,000 new enrolments last year.

At the other end of the scale, ‘Generic Programmes and Qualifications’ and ‘Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries & Veterinary’ were the least popular fields, with just 1,213 new enrolments.

Meanwhile, 70,515 students graduated from higher education institutions in 2017, made up of 48,931 undergraduates and 21,584 postgraduates, an increase of 16% over the last five years.

The document also provided a breakdown of the income and expenditure in the Irish higher education system.

It revealed that the higher education sector took in €2.4bn in 2015/16, with €1.1bn of this earned through fees and a further €616m made through grants.

The sector also spent approximately €2.4bn the same year, around €1.7bn of which went on pay – including €295m on research grants and contracts.

The HEA’s chief executive Paul O’Toole said the enrolment figures showed that Ireland was a nation that is committed to learning.

“Even during the downturn, the Irish higher education system continued to expand while resources tightened,” he said.

“This talent pool will help us meet whatever challenges we face.”

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