Less than 15% in some Dublin areas going to college


LESS THAN 15 per cent of Leaving Cert students in some poorer areas of Dublin are progressing to third level, according to the 2010 Irish Timesfeeder school list published today.

Schools in Cabra, Ballymun, Finglas and Blanchardstown register a progression rate of between 11 and 14 per cent.

In stark contrast, most schools in south Dublin have a progression rate of 100 per cent; every one of their students who sat the Leaving Cert this year has progressed to third level.

The new figures come amid renewed controversy about the impact of the abolition of third-level fees in 1995 and as students face increased registration charges in next month’s budget. The list appears to show that “free fees” have have had only a marginal impact in boosting participation levels in poorer areas.

Low levels of access to third level are especially marked on the northside of Dublin. In all, 38 northside schools have a progression rate to third level of less than 40 per cent.

Other Dublin schools – in Swords, Balbriggan, Sallynoggin and Rush – also have low progression rates.

The Coalition hopes that some 70 per cent of all school leavers will progress to college by 2012. But this appears to be an ambitious target given today’s figures.

The list tracks the progression of students from school to 36 third-level colleges including the institutes of technology.

The Irish Times also publishes a separate list focusing on progression rates to high-points courses, mostly in the university sector.

This list is dominated by feepaying schools. The top feeder schools for high-points courses include Gonzaga, Mount Anville and CUS in Dublin; Glenstal Abbey in Limerick and Clongowes Wood in Kildare.

Several Gaelscoileanna also do well, including Coláiste Eoin and Coláiste Iosagáin in Stillorgan, Dublin.

When entry to the institutes of technology are also included, fee-paying schools are less dominant in the tables.

Broadly, the lists show that “free” State schools will match or even eclipse the progression rate of some fee-paying schools if they are located in affluent areas. Community and comprehensive schools in affluent areas of the main cities all feature strongly in the lists.

Earlier this year – in a paper published by UCD’s Geary Institute – Dr Kevin Denny said the key factor to influence college entry was Leaving Cert points. Dr Denny discovered that few children from working-class backgrounds secured enough points to gain a place in most university courses, despite the “free fees” regime.

The report echoed the findings of a Higher Education Authority study last year which found that lower socio-economic groups such as manual workers, semi-skilled or unskilled workers, were still hugely under-represented on “blue chip” courses like medicine, pharmacy and law.

Not a single student entering university courses in pharmacy or medicine in 2008/2009 came from an unskilled background.