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Higher Education Authority of their report on progression rates in third level institutions.

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“The Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) welcomes the publication by the Higher Education Authority of the latest study of progression in higher education.  This is a valuable snapshot of statistical information around student numbers and their progression rates from 1st year to 2nd year in the higher education sector.  We with the broad technological sector employ the report annually to assist the sector in identifying the effect of the enhancing supports that are in place to increase student retention and success rates.  It is clear that much work still needs to be done in order to understand further the actual insights that can be gained and the additional actions that can be taken in order to identify vulnerable cohorts and students and to allocate the supports required in order to increase overall progression rates.

“We are seeing modest improvement year on year and it provides some evidence that responses to date are having positive impact.   We note the report identifies certain groups of students who are more at risk than their peers of not progressing in their studies:
–              students from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds;
–              students with lower previous academic attainment; and
–              students entering the system at level 6 and level 7.

“The Institutes of Technology by their very nature, attract and encourage disproportionately more of these students to enter third level education.  This year for the first time, the analysis allows for variability factors such as this and finds that when this disproportionality is allowed, the analysis shows that the progression rates of students in the Institutes of Technology are as high as in many traditional universities.  This is supportive of the targeted innovative pedagogical approaches being adopted in the sector.

“This report quantifies the extent of non-progression rates.  But it cannot highlight the personal stories and insights that lie behind the statistics: where do these students go, how many of them change course early on and continue to complete their higher education journey or how many actually enter employment and continue to contribute to the local economy?   We continue also to monitor the varying retention and success rates evident in different domains of study.

“THEA is about to initiate a qualitative analysis of student retention in order more fully to understand these indicators.  We hope that by undertaking this piece of research, we can build upon the findings of this report, particularly those relating to previous academic attainment, and more fully understand the factors that influence students to progress successfully from year to year. As part of this research, we hope to deliver insights around what supports and interventions learners require in order to progress through their entire programme of higher level education.  Prior educational attainment, family context, socio-economic profile are all fundamental elements in this picture and a greater understanding can assist in ensuring that resources are targeted where they are most needed.

“We have argued for increased funding for the sector and have welcomed the announcement of capital investment made by the Department earlier in the year.  We are hoping that the retention study that we are about to undertake will provide the evidence-base for an inclusive discussion around support for students and will highlight and quantify the nature of the investment priorities that must be made in order to ensure that the prospect of success for students is as high as it might be.”

Statement from Dr Joseph Ryan, CEO Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) upon publication by the Higher Education Authority of their report on progression rates in third level institutions.


Women are more likely to stick with their courses

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Women are more likely than male students to progress to the following year, a Health Education Authority report has found.
It said that in the Institute of Technology sector, at levels six, seven and eight – which would include higher certificate, ordinary bachelor degree, and honours bachelor degree courses – mature students are more likely to progress to the following year than new entrants under the age of 23. But the opposite is true at level eight in the university and colleges sector, where traditional students are more likely to progress than mature ones.
Across all levels and sectors, Irish students had a non-progression rate of 15pc, compared to 14pc among non-Irish nationals.
In relation to socio-economic groups, the lowest level of non-progression was found among farmers at 8pc.

Irish Independent

Disadvantaged students twice as likely to drop out after first year of college

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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.

Irish Independent

Concerned at the high non-progression rates on some level 6 and 7 courses.

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The Higher Education Authority (HEA) wants school students to get improved guidance and information after its latest analysis shows a slight improvement in progression of students to the second year of their college courses. The 14% of students who started courses in autumn 2014 but did not enter second-year a year later is down from 15% among the preceding year’s college entrants.
The HEA report shows that institutes of technology (IoTs) continue to have much higher numbers who do not make it to year two. The non-progression rates on their non-degree courses were as high as 27%, up from 25% in a year, compared to 15% on their honours (level 8) degree courses.
The numbers who did not progress on level 8 degrees at universities was 10%, down slightly from 11% in a year. Teacher education colleges have the highest retention rates, but the numbers who did not progress increased from 6% to 8%.
The HEA distinguishes between non-progression and dropout by pointing out that some students may repeat first year, change courses or leave for personal reasons with plans to return later.
Student characteristics continue to significantly influence progress, as those with higher prior educational attainment (measured using Leaving Certificate results), from better-off backgrounds, and women are more likely to progress. But when these factors are controlled, given the higher number of male students and low-points courses at IoTs, the HEA found that their non-progression rates are much closer to the universities’.
For example, Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and University College Dublin (UCD) had 9% and 11% non-progression rates, respectively. But controlling for age, gender, nationality, socio-economic group, grant and free fees status, school type, course level and Leaving Certificate points, their students are more likely not to progress than those of Letterkenny and Limerick institutes of technology, whose headline progression rates were both 22%.
Joseph Ryan, chief executive of the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA), said this reflects the fact that institutes of technology attract and encourage disproportionately more of the student groups at higher risk of not progressing. The association plans to analyse student retention further to better understand the stories of the students behind the statistics, including what influences different rates in different study disciplines.
HEA chief executive Graham Love said the continuing relatively high non-progression rates on some level 6 and 7 courses in computing, engineering and construction remains a worry, despite small increases in overall proportions of students progressing to second year on all courses.
He said:
“The majority of these students are male. They may learn in a different way and I am glad that the new apprenticeships model is responding to that way of learning.
“We also need to ensure that there is adequate guidance and information at second level…We need to ask if students are picking wrong courses and how we can help ensure that they make the right choice.”
Friday, May 18, 2018
By Niall Murray – Education Correspondent
Third-level dropout rates are as high in some universities as institutes of technology when account is taken of differences in their student intake and other factors.

Are we sending too many young people to third level?

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The fact that we send more students to third level than any other country in the EU is often seen as a badge of honour.
The proportion of school-leavers going on to higher education ballooned from about 10 per cent in the 1960s to well over 60 per cent nowadays.
Ireland now has the highest proportion of young people with third-level qualifications across the EU.
But a new study released by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on the volume of of students failing to progress beyond their first year of college highlights a flipside to this achievement : are we now sending too many to higher education?
Overall, some 5,800 students – or 14 per cent of all new entrants to third level – did not move on to their second year of their course.
These are encouraging figures when set against higher education systems across Europe.
Despite a decade of falling investment by the State in the sector – with reduced staff-to-student ratios and depleted student support services – third level colleges have managed to reduce non-progression rates overall in recent years.
However, dig a little deeper and there are alarming numbers of students who have scored lower Leaving Cert points and are falling through the cracks in the system.
Higher certificate
For example, half of all students studying higher certificate courses in construction at institutes of technology failed to make it past their first year. These numbers reached as high as 80 per cent in some institutions. There is a similar pattern in engineering and computer science.
This is undermining the self-confidence of young people and has a huge cost to the individuals, their families and wider society.
These figures also raises questions about the adequacy of careers guidance and challenges us to reconsider the suitability of third level for a significant minority of school leavers.
Surely, many of these students would do better in other options such as apprenticeships or further education?
We all learn in different ways. We are not all suited to traditional academic approaches. Apprenticeships, for example, offer excellent “earn and learn” options with on-the-job experience, decent starting salaries and high chance of employment.
However, they still suffer – wrongly – from a status problem. Parents – and students – – remain obsessed with third level to the detriment of other options.
There is a big job of work ahead on the part of policy-makers, guidance counsellors and the media in promoting these alternative options, boosting their standing and encouraging more students to consider them.
Glaring inequities
These latest non-progression figures also highlight another stark side to the education system: how glaring inequities in society extend into academic performance.
Students from disadvantaged schools are almost twice as likely to fail to make it past their first year in college compared to those from fee-paying schools.
For all our talk of promoting access and equality, it is clear that students from more affluent backgrounds have a significant advantage over those from less-well-off homes.
There is also evidence of a class divide across many of our universities and institutes of technology. Almost a quarter of students from Trinity College Dublin and UCD are from fee-paying schools. The comparable figures for Athlone IT, Galway-Mayo IT and IT Tralee, for example, are below 1 per cent.
Geography is, of course, a factor given that most fee-paying schools are in south Dublin.
However, at IT Blanchardstown and IT Tallaght, between 4 and 8 per cent of students are from fee-paying schools.
Education, we know, has a unique capacity to break down cycles of disadvantage. If anything, our system seems to be replicating privilege.
The Government has spoken often about its aim of building a fair and compassionate society. The rhetoric of equality, however, can flow freely off the tongue.
While there are various strategies to improve the representation of working-class young people in higher education, they are modest by any measure. Much more ambition will be needed to tackle this class divide, backed up by proper funding and political will

Poorer students twice as likely to drop out of college in year one

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Carl O’Brien
Students from disadvantaged schools are almost twice as likely to fail to make it past their first year in college than those from fee-paying schools, a new study finds.
In all, some 5,800 students – or 14 per cent of all new entrants to third level – did not move on to their second year of their course.
The research by the Higher Education Authority shows almost one-in-five students (19 per cent) from Deis or disadvantaged schools did not progress beyond first year. This compared to 10 per cent of students from fee-paying schools.
These figures relate to students who began college in the 2014/15 academic year.
Overall, a student’s Leaving Cert points are the strongest predictor of their performance in college.
Students entering with lower points are much more likely to drop out or fail to complete their course compared to those with higher points.
The findings are likely to reignite a debate about whether too many students who are ill-equipped to cope with the academic demands are moving on to higher education.
Alternative options
Ireland sends more students to third level than any other country in Europe, which is seen as a badge of honour by most policymakers.
However, some commentators feel more students should be encouraged to explore alternative options such as apprenticeships.
The profile of student most likely to progress is a female studying education or healthcare in a university or college, with relatively high Leaving Cert points.
The student most likely not to drop out is male, with relatively low Leaving Cert points, studying a level six (advance certificate) or level seven (ordinary degree) course at an institute of technology in computer science, construction or engineering.
In total, the study tracked 41,441 new entrants to higher education. The non-progression rate (14 per cent) was a slight improvement on the previous year’s figure (15 per cent).
The numbers who fail to make it to their second year of study vary across different fields of study. Construction and related programmes had the highest non-progression rate (23 per cent). However, this is down five percentage points from the previous years.
Medicine, by contrast, had the lowest non-progression rate of all new entrants in profession-oriented courses (2 per cent) while architecture had the highest (20 per cent).
The proportion of students who did not complete their first year varied significantly across different sectors.

Highest rates were recorded in diploma (27 per cent) and ordinary degrees (25 per cent) in institutes of technology.
This compared to lower rates in honours degree courses at institutes of technology (15 per cent), universities (10 per cent) and smaller colleges (8 per cent).
Dr Graham Love, chief executive of the Higher Education Authority, said overall there were positive trends.
However, he said high non-progression rates on some diploma and honours degree courses in computing, engineering and construction remain a worry.
“The majority of these students are male. They may learn in a different way and I am glad that the new apprenticeships model is responding to that way of learning,” he said.
Adequate guidance
While rates of non-progression are generally higher in institutes of technology (IoTs) than in universities, after controlling for factors – such as academic attainment of the student and socio-economic background – some IoTs performed better than universities.
Dr Love also said there needs to be 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. We need to ask if students are picking wrong courses and how can we help ensure that they make the right choice,” said Dr Love.
On the issue of equity, Dr Love said that while the education system was committed to access and to equality, it was clear that student from a financially better-off backgrounds had advantages over those from less well-off backgrounds.

Workshop on: Read, Write, Present

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This workshop will take place on the 11 January in Trinity College Dublin.

Identifying research opportunities in your practice; and how to develop a presentation/paper to share your research with colleagues in a conference setting

Workshop One

The aim of the first workshop is three-fold; it will explore with practitioners the value of presenting their work in academic conferences, identify research opportunities within their existing practice and provide an overview of how to prepare the dreaded paper/presentation.

Workshop two

There will also be a follow up workshop which explores in more detail research methods. Providing training in quantitative and qualitative methods and the development of research projects which meet the standard for academic publication. More details of this workshop will follow:

Workshop one – Why you should present

Attending academic conferences is an excellent way to inform practice and build partnerships across sectors. If you are attending, it makes sense to give a presentation.

As an academic researcher it is essential for me to learn from practitioners; and some of the most informative conferences I have been to have included practitioners biting the bullet and providing insight into how theory translates into real life practice.

Few of the people you meet at an academic conference will be fellow practitioners, but those few tend to be the most innovative practitioners, the best prospects for collaboration within and outside your job, and the most willing to share information.

As for the academics at the conference, if they think you can steer grants or contracts their way then you will be the very popular. Otherwise, it can be hard to find common ground with academics at the conference. It helps if you are presenting, because it raises your profile and gives you a natural topic of conversation. There are additional reasons why, if you are investing the time and money to attend a conference, it makes sense to be a presenter:

A practitioner can present her own experience with techniques he/she has applied or cases he/she has participated in. A frank presentation of what he/she tried, what worked, what failed and what he/she observed can show other practitioners what they want to copy or avoid, and can show academics a specific instance of phenomena they might want to study more generally. An important element of practitioner presentations is reporting on personal experience of what works and what doesn’t.

The second part of the day will involve exploring how practice can translate into a presentation; and identifying differing ways in which the group have seen this work. Each participant will be required to submit one week before the workshop a one page description of some practice or work which is central to their role; through small group session we will identify ways in which this work can be presented at a conference and define the innovative elements of the work. The workshop facilitator will identify interesting questions which emerge from the work you submit prior to the workshop.

How you should present

Conferences usually involve panels of three or four presenters, plus a moderator. Each presenter is allotted 15 or 20 minutes, with time at the end for audience questions. The conference will issue a call for proposals a few months in advance, inviting proposals for complete panels and for individual presentations. Conference organizers have a limited number of rooms and times, and they want to maintain quality, so they will pick and choose among proposals. But most conferences accept most of the proposals they receive. If you send a proposal for an individual presentation, and it is accepted, then the conference organizers will choose a panel to include your presentation. The hardest part for practitioners is often choosing the topic and then structuring it; they feel pressured to perform like an academic! This is not needed, practitioners can bring a unique element to the presentation as they are on the ground and have the facility to showcase activities or experiences in a less ‘technical’ or less ‘dry’ way than academics!

The final part of the session will include guidance on abstract and paper writing and we will conclude the session with each member having developed a working abstract on their practitioner work.

Tickets for the Event can now be booked at the following:


CSSI Professional Development Event: 15/16 February 2017, University of Limerick

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CSSI is delighted to announce our 2017 Professional Development Event.

Title of Event: Promoting Services through Social Media 

Date:  Wednesday, 15th February and repeated on Thursday, 16th February. This is to facilitate as many members as possible. Maximum number per workshop: 24.

Times:  10.00 a.m.- 4.30 p.m.  Teas/Coffees will be available upon arrival as will lunch at 1.00 p.m.

Venue:  The Glucksman Library, University of Limerick.

Directions to the campus and parking facilities are available on the Buildings and Estates webpage (click here for details).  Those attending are advised to use the Pay Car Park across from the main bus stop (drive in main gates with Flag Poles, drive straight through roundabout, main bus stop ahead on the left, pay car park across on the right).  The training room in the Glucksman Library is a short walk from the car park with clear sign posts.

Tickets for the Event can now be booked at the following:

UPDATE: We are now completely sold out – looking forward to seeing you on the 15th and 16th.

4th Transatlantic Dialogue, May 2017, Luxembourg

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4th Transatlantic Dialogue

Creating human bonds through Cultural Diplomacy

When: May 24th -26th / 27th, 2017

Where: Campus Esch Belval & Neumünster Abbey, Luxembourg


The Transatlantic Dialogue conference series on global citizens, held in Luxembourg since 2008, explore the significance of culture / liberal education for fostering global citizenship from both US and European perspectives.

Please check out the Conference Homepage for any further information