Lack of interest ‘a key factor’ in low third-level attendance

Lack of interest may be a bigger factor than financial barriers in low third-level attendance in some areas, a study on college awareness suggests.

Less than one-in-six people aged 18 to 20 from Dublin 10 and Dublin 17 go on to third-level according to research published in August by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), compared to a 51% national average.

A study published yesterday at the opening of College Awareness Week asked people in those areas about the main reasons for not progressing into further studies after school. Similar to national figures in a wider survey, wanting to get a job was the biggest factor for almost half who did not go to college.

Financial constraints were the second-biggest factor nationally, cited by more than one-in-four of the 343 people who had not been to college.

But the second-most common factor among people in the two Dublin areas was lack of interest.

Only 4% of the 73 people from Dublin 17 who did not complete further studies blamed finances, but 15% said they were not interested; the corresponding figures in Dublin 10, where 89 people had no post-school qualification, were 11% and 21%, respectively.

Although a small sample of 125 people was surveyed in each of the two areas, the findings suggest a need to better promote college studies.

They emerge from work by Amárach Research for the week-long initiative of the HEA, National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) and the Confederation of Student Services Ireland.

More than 300 activities are taking place in schools, libraries, and other venues to highlight the benefits of a college education, helped by local role models who have attended, with tours of college campuses being organised for local schools.

Many events are aimed at parents of school children, and the research found that parents are the biggest real-life role models for nearly half of people in Dublin 10 and Dublin 17, with teachers emerging as the main influence for around one-in-five. As well as jobs and finances being key factors nationally in deciding whether to go to college, friends also emerged as a major influence.

Although 90% of 663 parents surveyed nationally would encourage their children to pursue further studies after school, half do not believe they have enough knowledge to advise them. The vast majority would like more information to help them do so.

NAPD director Clive Byrne said this week’s events are about creating a conversation about post-second-level education plans.

“We not only want to encourage young people to make college a part of their future plans, but we also want to show those people who may not normally have considered further education that it is a viable option for them too,” he said.

Of 1,000 adults surveyed, three-quarters have a qualification higher than school level, with higher rates among younger adults.

However, almost even numbers believe there is or is not enough information available to mature students about returning to education.


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