By Rachel Garvey
A recent study in The Sunday Independent has shown that fee-paying students are up to three times more likely to attend top universities. The data recorded by the Sunday Independent showed that “less than 10 percent of pupils sitting the Leaving Cert attend private schools, yet 30 percent of these students make up the incoming student populations in Trinity and University College Dublin in 2019”, These statistics show the proportion of private school students are attending some of Ireland’s top third level institutions.
The figures show that 51 percent of students from public schools will go on to attend university. In comparison, 70 percent of fee-paying students went on to a higher institution. Ireland’s top art colleges have a particularly high proportion of students from fee-paying schools. For example, Sunday Independent’s recorded data showed that 23% of students who attended Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art and Design had come from a fee-paying school, while that number is 20% for the National College of Art and Design.
The Irish Times conducted a recent survey which showed that students from private schools dominated most of the popular courses at third level. These private schools also made up half of the 25 schools who had the most students progress to third level. Carl O’Brien of The Irish Times conducted an interview with Professor of Equality Studies at UCD, Kathleen Lynch, who stated “access to grinds and trips to Irish colleges are among the ways better-off students can secure an educational advantage”.
The lack of these benefits can be seen as a potential barrier to further education for those who can’t attend private, fee-paying schools. This is something that university student bodies are keen to address, as seen by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) slogan, ‘Break the Barriers’.
Statistics also showed that most students don’t leave their own county to go on to third level. Around 90% of students in Dublin stayed in the county for college. That figure is 72% in Galway, and 78% in Cork.