Seventy-five per cent of college entrants in 2014 are studying for an honours degree at universities across the country, a 41% increase from nine years ago.
New data released by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) reveals that school-leavers are now more ambitious than nearly a decade ago with 10,000 more students in 2014 than 2005 opting for a level 8 degree after completing their Leaving Certificate examination.
This has resulted in the popularity of universities rising and more courses being added to satisfy this increased demand.
According to the HEA there has been a rise in those studying business, law and construction at universities.
Education Officer at the DCU Students’ Union, Gary Gillick, said the University was prepared to deal with the surge in demand for courses.
“From an academic perspective, a larger influx of students will obviously equal a greater demand on the resources provided by the University. The main thing to remember is that no organisation is effective without a long-term strategy.
“With DCU in mind, the long-term strategy does include plans to accommodate expansion.”
The demand for level 6/7 courses have consequently fallen by almost 4 per cent to 11,752 this year from 12,198 in 2013.
The figures indicate that there is a growing gap in popularity between level 6/7 courses and the level 8 courses.
Institutes of Technology have proportionately provided more level 6/7 degrees in comparison to universities, this belief was supported during the recent recession as undergraduates sought to enhance their employability with these degrees.
In 2009, Institutes of Technology had a 47 per cent share of first year students but this has subsequently fallen to 45 per cent.
Universities once again represent the largest proportion of 47,000 first year college entrants after overtaking Institutes for the first time in 2008.
Image: Deirdre O’Sullivan