An initiative is being launched to combat alarming drop-out rates across Ireland’s third-level institutions, as figures reveal that more than half of students on at least 12 leading courses nationwide fail to complete their first year.
According to data from the Higher Education Authority (HEA), a total of 6,414 students — equating to 16% of all first-year student numbers — quit their college courses in 2014.
Worryingly, the bulk of abandoned courses are in sectors like science and technology, which are being championed by the Government and employer groups to meet the skills shortage in the Irish economy.
Just two in three computer science students across all the country’s ITs successfully completed their first year in 2014, according to the HEA data.
However, chiefs of gradireland said they are confident a new initiative they have devised with the Association of Higher Education Careers Services (AHECS) will help reverse the trend of soaring drop-out rates.
First-year students are to be specifically targeted by potential employers and careers advisers at gradireland’s upcoming #FYI workshop in a bid to persuade them to stick with their courses.
Mark Mitchell, director with gradireland, said: “We developed this initiative in response to the worrying drop-out rates to enable students to better understand their career options and to help them make better-informed career decisions.
“The event involves a series of video interviews with recent graduates, demystifying some of the jargon around modern careers, and informing students of what working in various sectors is really like and the skills they’ll need to be successful. This practical, straight-talking advice is backed up by career-path graphics, showing first-year students exactly where their skills can take them, and hopefully will provide some much-needed aspiration and inspiration for them in what can be a very daunting time.”
Separate research from gradireland has revealed that just 61% of students feel their course equips them “with the right skills for the labour market”.
Brendan Baker, chairman of AHECS, added: “Many students complete their journey through higher education, but regret their degree choice. Over 20% graduate with no clear idea of what they want to do career-wise. Many factors contribute to these statistics, but there is no doubt that initiatives to promote early engagement with students are a strategic priority for higher education initiatives.”
Over 40 major employers will be represented at the gradireland #FYI Careers event at the RDS on March 2.
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