The University Observer has learned that 484 full time students studying Arts left their courses between 2015 and 2017, the highest number across all University College Dublin (UCD) programmes. The figure, which represents 55.8 per cent of all course leavers in the university, includes students in dual honours Arts degree programmes across a wide variety of subjects.

Data released under the Freedom of Information Act 2014 has shown the number of students not retained by the Arts programme was nine and a half times bigger than that of Science, which had the second highest number of non-retained students across UCD programmes. 51 students left DN200 Science between 2015 and 2017, while the Social Sciences programme had the third highest number of course leavers over the same period, at 26. The data released to the University Observer shows the number of students not retained by the university, by individual programmes.

Overall, 868 UCD students left their courses over the period. The data does not indicate whether the students changed courses or universities, or whether they left the higher education system altogether.

The most recently available data also indicated that fewer students were leaving their courses in 2017 than two years before. Only 117 students were not retained in their programme in 2017 compared to 375 students in 2015, a drop of almost 69 per cent. 376 students were not retained in 2016.

The progression rates of first year undergraduates in UCD to their second year have remained high between 2014 to 2016, with over 70 per cent of programmes boasting progression rates of above 85 per cent. In the same period, only 1 programme has had a progression rate of less than 50 per cent; in 2015, UCD’s Music programme had a progression rate of 42.9 per cent.

There is little difference among the progression rates of male and female students, with the latest average figures across all programmes for 2016 sitting at 86.1 per cent for female students and 86 per cent for male students.

UCD defines the progression rate as the total number of a full-time undergraduate degree entering cohort who progress directly to second year at the end of their first year of study. A student progresses to the next year if the student completes and passes the final examination for that year or attains the required number of credits to progress. Undergraduate degree entering cohort is full-time undergraduate degree students entering first year for the first time.

Figures also reveal that the university’s non-completion rate, calculated per 100 new entrants, peaked at 17 per cent for 2012/2013 entrants but decreases to 12.4 for students who started in 2014/2015. The university defines ‘completion’ as the total number of an entering cohort who are awarded a degree. Average non-completion rates for entrants between 2011 – 2014 have been highest for the single honours DN518 Philosophy course, where just over 50 per cent of students have not been awarded a degree. The single honours French and German courses also have high non-completion rates, at 43.5 per cent and 42.6 per cent respectively.

Courses with much lower non-completion rates include undergraduate Medicine (0.8 per cent non-completion rate), Graduate Entry Medicine (3.2 per cent), Economics & Finance (2.3 per cent), Business & Law (2.9 per cent), Dairy Business (3.2 per cent) and Actuarial & Financial Studies (2.9 per cent).

Non-completion rates among female students stand at 17.1 per cent for 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 entrants, with the more recent rates for 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 entrants at 15.3 per cent and 13.1 per cent respectively. Meanwhile, male students who entered the university in 2014/2015 have a slightly higher non-completion rate at 14.9 per cent.

Among Health Sciences programmes, approximately 56 students left their courses over the 3 year period of 2015-2017, with General Nursing, Biomedical Health & Life Science, and Sports & Exercise Management having the highest number of leavers, at 11, 9 and 7 respectively.

Elsewhere, business-related courses saw approximately 46 students leave. Taken together, the Commerce and Commerce International courses had 28 students who left, while the Quantitative Business and Economics courses both had 8 students leave. 2 students left the university’s Actuarial & Finance course, over the same period.

Twenty programmes reported that all students had been retained between 2015 – 2017. These courses were: Archaeology & Geology; Agri-Environmental Sciences; Undergraduate and Graduate Entry Medicine; Children’s & General Nursing; Psychiatric Nursing; Liberal Arts; Philosophy; French; German; Spanish; Law with French Law; Law with History; Law with Politics; Law with Philosophy; Law with Economics; Economics and Politics; History; Politics and International Relations; Computer Science, and Economics & Finance.