Students three times as likely to drop out of ITs as universities

First-year college students are three times more likely to drop out if they study in an Institute of Technology (IT) rather than in a university, new research from the Higher Education Authority has shown.

An average of 26 per cent of first-year students studying for an Ordinary Degree (Level 7) do not progress to the second year of that course. Such courses are usually studied in ITs and drop-out rates can be as high as 33 per cent for individual institutes. Non-progression among Higher Certificate students (Level 6) averages at 25 per cent.

The drop-out rate for Honours Degree (Level 8) programmes in ITs averages at 16 per cent, but lowers to nine per cent in universities.

The lowest non-progression rate is four per cent in teacher-training colleges.

While some go on to study under different programmes, the research shows that more students drop out completely, either because they feel they initially made the wrong choice or because they were badly equipped for the demands of college life.

Research shows that key factors, such as career guidance and prior educational attainments, particularly in maths, influence how students handle their first year in college.

Despite ITs having the highest non-progression rates among first-year students, they also have the smallest class sizes and most non-traditional students. However, universities have higher-qualified staff and generate more research income.

Unsure first-year students in DCU have been accessing the Student Support and Development Services, particularly as the closing date for withdrawals with half-fee tuition was January 31st.

Laura Colgan

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