Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has described the high non-progression rates in some courses at third-level as extremely worrying and stated that it is clearly linked to continuous funding cuts in Ireland’s education system.

The Sinn Féin TD was responding to new figures in the ‘Study of Progression in Irish Education’ published by the Higher Education Authority.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“This latest report confirms the two-tier nature of Irish education. Students from less well-off groups are over-represented in the Institute of Technology sector and are most at risk of dropping out of their course, as figures show that level 6 and 7 courses have the highest non-progression rates of between 26% and 27%.

“This compares with an 11% non-progression rate in the University sector, with those in the farming, professional, employer, and managerial socio-economic groups most likely to proceed with their studies.

“For students from wealthy backgrounds there is considerably less pressure when it comes to financial element of attending university and getting a third-level education.

“The Institute of Technology sector is also most reliant on government funding, which has reduced by over 20% per student since 2008, with a 30% decline in staff-student ratios across third level.

“In addition, the ESRI has shown that cuts to guidance counselling at second-level have impacted most heavily on disadvantaged students, who rely on the services for appropriate information of the career pathways available to them.

“The failure to provide basic supports to disadvantaged students will further increase inequality across our society in future years as graduates earn up to 64% more than those without third level education.

“In Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget 2017, we called for increased supports for guidance counselling, the reduction of the staff-student ratio in Institutes of Technology, increased funding for student assistance and a reduction in fees.  These measures that would make a real difference helping support young people to complete their education and making access more equitable.”