FIGURES from the Higher Education Authority showing spectacular third-level student dropout rates — up to 56% in one instance — must sound alarm bells.
Almost a third of those who enrolled at the Institute of Technology Tallaght in 2007 did not begin a second year course. Computer programmes at six institutes lost at least one-third of students after the first year. Over 20% of those who started all courses at various institutes of technology never made it to second year. The attrition rate at universities was much lower at 9%.
These figures suggest our method of assessing second-level students has lost its validity. It also raises questions about committing scarce resources to a system with such a high failure rate, second-level teaching at the ambition to sending almost three-quarters of our children on third-level courses.
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