THE IGC welcomes the recently released statistics from the HEA regarding the unacceptably high drop out rates from 1st Year college courses. The reasons for this drop out of 7000 students annually are complex and solving this problem will involve the work of many Government Departments.
One of the most significant interventions that can take place in a second level student's life is that of a one to one interview with a qualified Guidance Counsellor. Up to 2012 there was never more than one Guidance Counsellor meeting the needs of up to 500 students, which led to many students receiving a very truncated guidance service during their second level education.
Since the automatic entitlement to guidance service was removed by the former Minister for Education and Skills Mr. Ruairi Quinn in 2012 the service has been severely curtailed in schools where parental financial support was not available to replace those withdrawn by the DES.
The figures released by the HEA makes it absolutely clear that the greatest problem of college drop outs is occurring in the Institute of Technology sector, predominantly among boys. These students come from communities which have very little parental experience of progressing in the education system beyond second level education. These are the very schools which have suffered most in terms of the loss of guidance resources since 2012.
It makes no sense either educationally or from a broader economic perspective to be denying guidance counselling services to these students as the results of this loss will only lead to higher drop out rates in the future.
Secondly, these figures show the need for all colleges to provide effective guidance counselling to 1st year students in the early months following registration. The model currently being provided by the University of Limerick should be replicated throughout the third level education sector.
Betty Mc Laughlin
087 995 8606
Mai Kerins Vice President
087 675 5802
087 980 0060