Computing courses and those in engineering have the highest numbers of students who fail to complete their courses.
The figures are included in comprehensive research published today tracking the college completion rate of students who began in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
Of the students who began college during these years, which coincided with the banking crisis and the last recession, three out of four completed their studies.
The Higher Education Authority, which undertook the research, said the data will act as a ‘national evidence base’ and highlight further areas of study.
Education courses had the highest completion rates across all three-year groups, ranging from 92% to 94% of students completing their degrees.
Courses in health and welfare, social sciences, agriculture, and veterinary also had high completion rates among students.
In comparison, computing courses continued to have the lowest completion rate, ranging from 55% to 56% of students. Engineering, manufacturing and construction, and services also had lower completion rates.
Less than half (49%) of the students who entered college with points under 300 completed their studies, compared to 93% of those with more than 500 points.
As well as Leaving Cert points, grades in Leaving Cert Maths and English were also found to be strong predictors of performance in higher education.
On average, the numbers of university students across all three-year groups completing their studies remained steady at 83%; for University College Cork, the figure was 84%, for University of Limerick it was 83%.
Completion rates tended to be lower in Institutes of Technology, recording between 65% to 66% across all three cohorts, particularly amongst National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) Level 6 and 7 courses, 60% to 62%.
Cork Institute of Technology saw 66% of its students from these years complete their studies, and IT Tralee saw 65%.
For Limerick Institute of Technology it was 70% and for Waterford Institute of Technology it was 67%.
Women continue to outperform men on average across most fields of study, both in terms of completion rates and in terms of final grades.
Across all three cohorts of students, almost 28,000 students didn’t complete their studies initially. However, more than 17% went on to graduate in another Irish higher education institution in the following years.
This varied considerably across sectors and higher education institutions; in universities, it was 26%, and 13% in institutes of technology.
This also varied between students who entered college with lower Leaving Cert points, 9% for those with less than 300 points, compared to 40% for those with more than 500 points.
The data published today does not look at some of the external factors that can lead students to leave college, such as financial issues, or the offer of employment.