How do Irish students look at life?

An extensive survey gets down to the details of life with 4,000 students

Wed, Aug 14, 2013, 06:00

Students from universities, colleges and institutes of technology all over the country – almost 4,000 in total – completed a survey early in the summer for the website They answered questions on a host of subjects ranging from the academic and financial to the personal and spiritual.

The survey kicked off with the big question: out of 4,000 students that responded to the survey, 2,233 described themselves as Catholic, while 917 described themselves as atheist. There were 391 students who selected “other” while the next biggest grouping described itself as non-denominational, at 287. This puts the percentage of students describing themselves as Catholic at less than half. National statistics put the number of Catholics far higher, at over 80 per cent.

A majority of students in the survey, at 48 per cent, support abortion under medical guidance in Ireland. Forty per cent support “freely available abortion” with six per cent against all forms of abortion.

Matters academic
Fifty-eight per cent of students who responded to this survey said that that the subjects they took in school prepared them for their college choice, while 30 per cent said that if they had the chance again they would fill out their CAO form differently.

Only a quarter of students entered college with a clear idea of the career path they wanted to pursue. The majority, 43 per cent, said they had an idea but weren’t too sure. If you haven’t a notion, you’re not alone – 32 per cent of students feel the same way, according to this study.

One in 10 students admitted to cheating in an exam or assessment.

When it came to the quality of the student experience, the responses were mixed. Over 70 per cent said that most of their lecturers were good, but 16.2 per cent said most of their lecturers were poor. But 84 per cent said they would recommend their course to others (interesting, when 30 per cent said they would like to go back and choose something else).

There was a patchwork response to the performance of students’ unions around Ireland. Fifty per cent felt their unions were “effective” or “very effective”, but 29 per cent felt their unions were average, while 11 per cent chose “not effective”. Ten per cent didn’t know anything about their union.

One in three students admitted to considering dropping out of college due to stress. Almost 30 per cent said they had been bullied at some time; the majority (23 per cent) cited “mental bullying”. Cyber bullying only accounted for two per cent of responses.

Personal and health issues
A majority (34 per cent) of students surveyed claimed to have had sexual intercourse with between two and five people. Eighteen per cent had not had sex while a quarter had sex with one person only. Just over 13 per cent claimed to have had sex with between six and 10 people, 7 per cent claimed to have had sex with between 10 and 20 people and 4.5 per cent said they had had sex with more then 20 people. Over 80 per cent of students in the survey said they had never been tested for a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Over 70 per cent of students in the survey don’t smoke, while a further 14 per cent claim that they “only smoke socially”. Only 15 per cent of students claim to smoke daily.

Socialising – off and online
Three quarters of students in this study claim to go to a pub or club at least once a week. Around two in five students surveyed live at home with their parents, with the remainder in private rented accommodation or student residences. The majority of those living away from their parents’ home are spending between €300 and €400 a month on rent.

Facebook presence among students is at saturation point, if these respondents are anything to go by. Half of one per cent claimed not to have a Facebook account, while 92 per cent said they checked their Facebook account at least twice a day. A quarter of students confessed to checking their account more than 10 times a day. Seventy-six per cent said they had a smartphone. Thirty per cent said they use a car more than any other kind of transport.

Looking ahead
Overall, student confidence in the survey was robust. While one in 10 were “not confident at all” of finding a job related their area of study after graduation, the rest were at least “mildly confident”, with a quarter claiming to be “very confident” or “absolutely certain” of getting a job in the area they want.

Over 30 per cent of respondents planned to do post-graduate study after finishing their undergraduate course. One in 10 planned to emigrate.

The National Student Survey was run by (see article, below), through its website. Responses were solicited and received from students in every Irish third level institute. Prizes were offered to respondents, drawn randomly from the entire database of responses. All responses were defined as unique using the respondents’ email address. The survey was run on between May 9th and 27th. The results shown are figures taken from a total response of 3,972.

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