81 per cent of Irish female students who began their degrees in 2007/08 completed their degrees, compared to 71 per cent of male students, a ten-year study by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has shown.
The study also shows that over 40 per cent of students did not complete their degree on time. Of those that did not complete their degree on time, 71 per cent graduated a year later. 63 per cent of all students who did not complete their degree over the ten year period dropped out during their first year in college.
The recently released study examined the completion rates of over 34,000 full-time undergraduate students who started their degrees in Colleges of Education, Universities and Institutes of Technology in the academic year 2007/2008.
The study states that performance in the Leaving Certificate is the strongest predictor of completion, noting, in particular, that Leaving Cert Maths and English are good indicators of the likelihood to complete a course.
At a Level 8 Honours Degree Level, Colleges of Education have the highest rates of completion at 93 per cent, while the State’s 7 universities have a completion rate of 83 per cent. 74 per cent of students in Institutes of Technology completed their degree.
Completion rates for level 6 and 7 programmes is lower, at 62 per cent.
The report further shows that students on education and teaching courses are the most likely to complete at 91 per cent, whereas those in health and welfare areas completed at a rate of 84 per cent. Computing degrees have the lowest level of completion, where just over half of all students complete the courses.
In a statement released to the media, Paul O’Toole, Chief Executive of the HEA, said that the “detailed report is a significant contribution to broadening understanding of student performance at higher education.”
“The findings are mostly positive but require further consideration to address some of the challenges that the evidence presents. In particular, we need to look at non-completion rates by males in certain areas, and the higher education system is seeking ways to improve the outcomes for those students.”