Public schools are closing the gap on private schools in sending students to university

Ryan Carrick

Non-fee-paying schools are closing the gap on fee-paying schools in terms of sending students to third-level.

The annual Feeder School Tables, published on 3 December, trace the transfer of students from about 700 schools to more than 30 universities, colleges and institutions. 

A huge surge in college progression rates nationally has seen many schools around the country reach 100 per cent progression rates. A decade ago, it was only fee-paying schools and a handful of others who reached this figure while this year 50 non-fee paying schools achieved this.

According to the tables, two in three schools have a 70 per cent rate of students going on to third level.

Over half of fee-paying schools have a 100 per cent rate of students going to college, while only 5 have a rate of less than 70 per cent. 

The number of students from disadvantaged areas going on to third-level education remains significantly lower.

For example, the percentage of students from St Paul’s CBS on North Brunswick Street who went to college in 2019 was 42 per cent while the percentage from Trinity Comprehensive School in Ballymun was 25 per cent.

However, individual schools in the Department of Education’s DEIS scheme for disadvantaged communities are pushing college progression rates to new highs year on year. Larkin Community College in Inner City Dublin saw 59 per cent of students progress to third-level education in 2018 compared to only 25 per cent in 2016.

As in previous years, the tables show that DCU is very popular for students on the Northside of Dublin while UCD remains popular for those on the Southside. According to Katherine Donnelly of the Irish Independent, this is linked to geography, coupled with the preference in Ireland to stay close to home.

According to research by the Educational Research Centre, students who score highly in reading, mathematics and science are more likely to enroll in fee-paying schools and to participate better in education.

The Institute of Education, a fee-paying school in Dublin City Centre, was accused of heating up the points race after it was announced that it is to introduce a programme that would allow students to cover large portions of the Leaving Cert curriculum over three years.

Peter Kearns, Director of the Institute, said it will introduce options in fourth year to study international qualifications which are “the best stepping stone to the Leaving Cert and cover much of the same ground.”

Author: Ryan Carrick

Image credit: Wikimedia