Dropout rate among first year college students rises to 15%

Dropout Rate Among First Year College Students Rises To 15%
Figures from the Higher Education Authority for the 2021/2022 academic year show the rate increased from 12 per cent the previous year.
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Muireann Duffy

Almost 7,000 third-level students did not progress to the second year of their course in the 2021/2022 academic year.

New figures from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) show the non-progression rate of first year students was 15 per cent.


This is up from 12 per cent for the 2020/2021 academic year.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) notes that 'non-progression' relates to those who did not re-enrol in any course in the same third-level institution for the following academic year (2021/2022). Therefore, it does not include students who transferred or began a new course within the same college.

The percentage of students dropping out within the first year was highest among those studying Level 7 courses (31 per cent), followed by Level 6 students (25 per cent) and Level 8 (14 per cent).

Of those who did not progress to second year, 40 per cent were found to have enrolled in another education course after one year, while a similar number were in employment.


Just 7 per cent of those who did not progress were noted as neither being in education nor employment, while 5 per cent were recorded as 'not captured'.

Non-progression rates were found to be higher among students from disadvantaged backgrounds, with 23 per cent of these students not continuing on to second year, compared to just 12 per cent of their more affluent peers.

By study area, the HEA found that over one quarter (28 per cent) of first years studying a services course did not progress into second year, while engineering, manufacturing & construction had a non-progression rate of 20 per cent.

Overall, the research found males, those coming from disadvantaged areas, and students with lower Leaving Certificate points on entry are at a higher risk of dropping out during the first year of their third-level course.

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