A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education

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A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education

This report examines progression in Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The aim of the report is to identify students most at risk of not progressing from their first year to the following year of study. This analysis includes rates of non-progression by institute, sector, field of study and NFQ level and highlights the different patterns of non-progression between sectors, levels and types of courses. In addition, significant attention is paid to identifying student characteristics that may be strongly associated with non-progression, such as gender, socioeconomic group and prior educational attainment (in terms of Leaving Certificate points) in order to identify the cohorts most at risk of not progressing. The following key points have been identified:

• The overall non-progression rates were 14% and 13% for new entrants in 2015/16 and 2016/17 respectively.

• There is significant variation in the rates across NFQ level and sectors, ranging from 23% in the Institute of Technology (IoT) sector at level 6 to 6% at level 8 in the Colleges (2016/17 entrants).

• There is a very strong association between Leaving Certificate points at entry and non-progression rates.

• The highest overall non-progression rates are in the Services field of study, with the lowest rates in Education.

• When profession-oriented courses are considered separately, medicine has the lowest rate of non-progression. Only architecture has a non-progression rate consistently higher than the average.

• Males have a higher non-progression rate than females, particularly at level 6 and level 7 in the Institute of Technology sector.

• Mature students have a higher non-progression rate than non-mature students, particularly at level 8 in the Universities and Colleges. However, at level 7 in the IoT sector, mature students have a lower rate of non-progression while there was no difference in non-progression rates between the two age groupings at level 6 (2016/17 entrants).

• As per previous years, the lowest rates of non-progression observed for both years are for the Farmers and Higher Professional socio-economic groups.

• Non-progression rates are trending downwards overall, from 16% (2010/11 entrants) to 13% (2016/17 entrants).

• When like-for-like student populations are compared across institutions using logistic regression analysis, the difference in non-progression rates is reduced, compared to the headline rates identified.

• The model predicted rates (and headline rates) show that Leaving Certificate points are a very strong predictor of non-progression.

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