Class Is A Major Factor in Securing College Places

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Class Is A Major Factor in Securing College Places: Last week the Feeder Schools League Tables 2020 were published. Each year these tables show which third-level institutions students from each Irish secondary school go on to attend in higher education in Ireland in the academic year.

It is important to note that the figures do not include school-leavers who went into further education, such as post-Leaving Cert (PLC) courses or those who pursued an apprenticeship.

Two significant findings are revealed in the 2020 tables, according to the Irish Times. Firstly, Deis-designated schools saw an increase in student progression to third-level education in 2020. Secondly, social class remains a major factor when it comes to “determining the level of educational attainment achieved by students in Ireland”.

So there is both cause to celebrate and cause to ask questions about the state of our secondary school system and the results it achieves.

The DEIS Plan was launched in 2005 by the Department of Education and Skills as a means to ensure that the educational needs of children and
young people from disadvantaged communities were met. The Plan reflects the Department of Education’s vision for education to more fully become a proven pathway to better opportunities for those in communities at risk of disadvantage and social exclusion.

The increase in the progression rates of DEIS students into higher education from Deis-designated schools is to be applauded. In 2020, 6,662 or 63.5 per cent of Deis students progressed to third-level. These figures point to an increase of 746 more students than in 2019, which saw 57 per cent of Deis students progressing.

However, the overall fact remains that class continues to be a major factor in determining college places.

Of the 20 schools which sent the highest proportion of their students to third-level education in 2020, 9 are fee-paying, as are the majority of schools on the list who sent the highest rate of students to high-points courses, according to the Irish Times

Last year brought with it much controversy around the Leaving Cert and the introduction of the calculated grades system. Such factors, however, failed to affect the the rate of student progression to third-level in 2020, which was as the Irish Times note “broadly in line with preceding trends.”

While it must be acknowledged that other factors are at play, ultimately it’s difficult to look away from the raw fact that emerges from the tables year after year – that students attending private fee-paying schools go on to attend third-level education at much higher rates than others.


Click here to download the full 2020 Feeder School tables is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level, CAO and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses and colleges.


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