IUA Press Release 18th May – HEA Report shows University Students progressing well from first to second year

The Irish Universities Association welcomes a new report by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on progression rates. The latest data continues to show very strong levels of progression of first year students to second year with 86% of the 2014/15 first year undergraduate new entrants in publicly funded higher education institutions progressing to second year. 

Irish progression data compares very favourably with other much better funded HE systems in Europe.  The high levels of progression reflects the strong focus in the university sector on student success, despite a decade of under-investment by the state in higher education which has had a detrimental effect on staff:student ratios and on student support services.

According to Lewis Purser, Director of Learning & Teaching and Academic Affairs at IUA “Improving progression rates is a key objective of the universities and in order to meet this commitment, they need to be able to expand capacity in a sustainable manner. To ensure a high-quality student experience for all students, they must provide the necessary academic, pastoral and social supports, particularly for disadvantaged students who need them most, so that they can benefit from their higher education opportunities.

Responding to data in the report which shows that students from less well-off backgrounds are more likely not to progress, Lewis Purser commented; “Evidence from the universities shows that where supports are in place, access students do just as well if not better than the average student in terms of graduation and employment. Building on the success of access programmes such as DARE and HEAR, the core objective should not just be about getting a defined percentage of the population into university education but also about ensuring that they progress through university and graduate successfully. Access initiatives need investment to ensure all students can reach their full potential”.

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For more information contact: Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications 01 6764948