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Non-Progression Rates in Irish Higher Education Institutions 

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Non-Progression Rates in Irish Higher Education InstitutionsHEA

This report examines progression in Irish Higher Education Institutions and follows on from previous (print/pdf) reports on progression in Higher Education . The purpose of this report is to identify the overall rate of non-progression of students from their first year into the following academic year and more particularly, to enable identification of particular cohorts of students with a high risk of non-progression.

Key Points:

  • Non-progression rates are trending slowly downwards overall, from 16% (2010/11 entrants) to 12% (2018/19 entrants). The non-progression rate of new entrants in 2019/20 was 9%.
  • While the overall non-progression rate improved in 2019/20, the non-progression rates for new entrants at Level 6 and 7 is at least double that for entrants to Level 8 courses (16% and 18% at Levels 6 and 7 respectively, compared to 8% at Level 8).
  • As in recent years, the highest overall non-progression rate was in the Services field of study (16% for 2019/20 entrants), closely followed by ICT (15%) and Engineering, Manufacturing & Construction (13%). The field of study with the lowest rate continues to be Education (3%).
  • Males have a higher non-progression rate than females, particularly at L6 and L7. In 2018/19 the non-progression rates were 26 and 27% respectively for males, 18% each for females. The gap was narrower at Level 8, at 8% for females and 11% for males. This pattern has continued in 2019/20, with overall rates for males at 11% but at 7% for females.
  • Mature entrants have a higher non-progression rate than non-mature entrants at Level 8; however, mature entrants have a lower rate of non-progression at Level 6 while there was no difference between the two age groupings at Level 7 (2019/20 entrants).
  • Students entering Level 8 courses through the DARE and HEAR schemes have slightly better non-progression rates than the overall average for Level 8 entrants. However, students entering from other “non-traditional” routes (i.e., not on the basis of Leaving Certificate points) have in general higher than average non-progression rates across all NFQ levels.
  • Where data is available, a very strong association between Leaving Certificate points at entry and non-progression rates is evidenced. Entrants with lower Leaving Certificate points have much higher-than-average non-progression rates, particularly at Levels 6 and 7. By contrast, students entering Level 8 courses with high points have the lowest non-progression rates, between 4 and 7% (2018/19 entrants) and as low as 3% (2019/20 entrants).
  • Variation in headline non-progression rates across HEIs can be seen before controls are applied. Comparing like-for-like students however, the difference in non-progression rates by HEI is significantly reduced.
  • Leaving Certificate Points are an important predictor of non-progression rates. Despite comparing like-for-like students, those with less than 200 points have a predicted non-progression rate of 25%, compared to just 4% for those with over 500 points.
  • Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to not progress than affluent students. However, after controlling for Leaving Certificate Points, no clear relationship exists between Deprivation Index Scores and non-progression rates.
  • Disparities in non-progression rates exist across gender and Leaving Certificate Points. For example, the gap in in non-progression rates between males and females with 200 Leaving Certificate Points is 11 percentage points, despite comparing like-for-like students. This gap diminishes for students with higher Leaving Certificate Points.

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