One-third of students have “seriously considered” withdrawing from degree programmes

Matthew Joyce

Survey findings released today have shown that over one-third of students say they have seriously considered withdrawing from their third-level course.

The Irish Survey of Student Engagement consisted of responses from 42,852 undergraduate and postgraduate students from twenty-five higher education institutions (HEIs), representing a national response rate of just under 28%.

This year’s survey is the first time in which a question regarding student withdrawal was included. 37% of respondents said they had seriously considered dropping out.

The survey data also suggested that 35% of first year undergraduate students had considered withdrawing from their course.

This is a substantial rise following on from a report by the Higher Education Authority which showed a 9% first-to-second-year non-progression rate from 2019-2020.

When asked why they would consider withdrawing, 13% said “personal or family reasons”, 10% said “financial reasons” and 9% said “transfer to another institution”.

The survey results show that 84% of respondents would go to the same institution they are now at, if they could start over again.

The results also show that 63% of those who responded learned something that changed the way they understand an issue or concept.

Dr. Siobhán Nic Fhlannchadha, Manager of, said the results had “immense value” for HEIs.

“I am always struck by how students use the survey to reflect critically and constructively on their experience,” Dr. Nic Fhlannchadha said, adding that these results “represent an opportunity to grow”.

The results of the survey are being released as part of their National Report, which will be launched at the QQI 10th Anniversary Conference in the Croke Park Conference Centre.

Matthew Joyce