Students in fee-charging schools more likely to progress to courses with high points

Deis schools send high numbers to third level but fee-paying schools still dominate the most sought-after courses

Students from fee-charging schools are significantly more likely to progress to high points college courses, according to data compiled by The Irish Times.

However, schools in disadvantaged areas – or Deis schools – have also performed strongly by sending high numbers of students to third level.

The figures are contained in the annual Irish Times Feeder Schools supplement on Friday, which provides a school-by-school breakdown on the number of students who progressed to higher-level education in 2021.

Last year’s Leaving Cert students were the first cohort to benefit from a choice of predicted grades and written exams.


New data shows that almost all Leaving Cert students in fee-charging schools progressed to third-level institutions (99.7 per cent), up slightly (+1 per cent) from the previous year.

Non-fee-charging schools also sent a large majority of students to college (80 per cent), down slightly (-3 per cent) on last year.

In Deis schools more than half of Leaving Cert students went on to study in higher education (62 per cent). This was also down slightly (-2 per cent) on the previous year, but up significantly on 2019 (+5 per cent).

Overall, these figures suggest that last year’s move to provide a choice between written exams and predicted grades proportionately benefited more students in fee-charging schools compared with 2020’s calculated grades model.

Education authorities have not released national data on progression from schools to further education courses.

When third-level progression rates are broken down to high points courses only, students in fee-charging schools fared particularly well with 87 per cent securing places in such programmes, up slightly on last year (+1 per cent).

Among non-fee-charging schools the equivalent figure was 52 per cent (-1 per cent year-on-year) and 33 per cent among Deis schools (no change).

The Feeder Schools data also provides a breakdown of college progression rates by postal district in the capital.

These figures show evidence of a “class gap” in the proportion of students going on to college in different parts of the city.

For example, third-level progression rates are highest in more affluent areas such as Dublin 6 (104 per cent), Dublin 14 (96 per cent), Dublin 2, 3, 4 (all 90 per cent).

They were significantly lower in less affluent areas such as Dublin 11 (54 per cent), Dublin 10 (55 per cent) and Dublin 1 and 22 (both 57 per cent).

When progression rates are broken down by county, Dublin ranks highest (90 per cent), followed by Clare (86 per cent) and Donegal (84 per cent).

The lowest ranked counties were Kilkenny, Longford, (both 68 per cent), Meath (71 per cent) and Cavan (72 per cent).

When Feeder School data is broken down by individual school, it shows fee-charging schools account for almost half of the 20 schools with the highest progression rates to high points courses.

Overall, the schools which sent the most students to third-level were: Christian Brothers College, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin; Salerno Secondary School, Salthill, Galway; Loreto Abbey, Dalkey, Co Dublin; Coláiste Muire, Ennis, Co Clare; Coláiste Íde, Dingle, Co Kerry; Gaelcholáiste Chiarraí, Tralee, Co Kerry; St Mary’s Secondary School, Macroom, Co Cork; The Teresian School, Dublin 4; St Gerard’s School, Bray, Co Wicklow; and Loreto College, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.

All these schools recorded progression rates in excess of 100 per cent, given that the numbers included students from previous years who deferred their applications.

In any given year, about 20 per cent of students defer their applications to higher education.