Data released from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has shown that the rate of third-level students dropping out after just one year of their course has fallen to just 9% for the 2019/2020 college year.

This rate was 16% nearly a decade ago and was 12% for the 2018/2019 college year showing a downward trend. 

The new data for the 2019/2020 college year is the first record that includes the time that the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting lockdowns had affected the college year. However, the HEA said that more years of data are required to fully understand the impact over time and the overall trajectory of non-progression rates in Irish higher education institutions.

The areas which had the highest rates of non-progression were services (16%), information and communication technology (15%) and engineering, manufacturing and construction (13%). The lowest was education with a rate of just 3%

The data was also broken down to show males had a higher rate of non-progression compared to females with a rate of 11% to 7%.

Also, in level 8 courses, mature students have a higher rate of non-progression compared to non-mature students, however non in level 7 or 6 courses and students entering Level 8 courses through the DARE and HEAR schemes have slightly lower than average non-progression rates.

The CEO of the Higher Education Authority, Dr Alan Wall noted that progression rates have seen a constant improvement over the last four years across the higher education system. He said that ‘Covid-19 appears to have had an impact on the 2019/20 progression rates, however, it is important to note that further analysis will be required in the subsequent years to fully understand the impact.’

Conor Paterson – Co-Editor