More than four in 10 students feel college does not prepare them for work

Big majority of students are positive about their overall educational experience at third level

Asked if university and college life prepared them for solving complex real-world problems, more than 15%  said “very little” and 33%  thought just “some”

Asked if university and college life prepared them for solving complex real-world problems, more than 15% said “very little” and 33% thought just “some”

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More than four in 10 students in Ireland believe they acquire very little or just some skills at university and college that will help them get a job, a survey has found.

The Irish Survey of Student Engagement, or StudentSurvey.ie, polled 44,707 first year and final year undergraduate students as well as post-graduate students attending third-level institutions this year.

Most of the study was carried out before restrictions were introduced to curb the spread of Covid-19, with report authors saying next year’s findings will better reflect the full impact of the pandemic.

When asked how much their experience at university or college contributed to them being better equipped to find employment, more than one in 10 (13 per cent) responded “very little”. Three in 10 (29 per cent) answered just “some”.

However, more than a third (34 per cent) believed their experience prepared them “quite a bit” for the world of work, with just less than a quarter (24 per cent) saying it helped with job-related skills and knowledge “very much”.

Students were polled at 26 higher education institutions throughout the country in February and March.

Asked if university and college life prepared them for solving complex real-world problems, more than 15 per cent said “very little” and a third (33 per cent) thought just “some”.

Some 32 per cent felt third-level education prepared them for the real-world “quite a bit” compared to less than a fifth (19 per cent) who thought it “very much” bolstered them.

Supported

The survey also asked students how supported they felt by their chosen institution – both academically and otherwise. While most (58 per cent) believed that they were academically supported “quite a bit” or “very much”, a third of students felt they were only getting “some” backing at college in pursuing their studies.

Nearly one in 10 (9 per cent) said they had “very little” academic support.

When it came to getting adequate campus support for non-academic responsibilities – such as work or family life – almost four in 10 (38 per cent) said there was “very little” support, while more than a third (34 per cent) reported just “some”.

Less than a fifth (19 per cent) said there was “quite a bit” of non-academic support, with just 8 per cent feeling “very much” backing.

However, the vast majority of students were positive about their overall educational experience at third level. More than half (51 per cent) rated it as “good”, 29 per cent as excellent, and 17 per cent as fair.

Just 3 per cent reported a poor experience, and most students said if they were to start over again they would go to the same college or university.