Report Says Social Class And Postcode Determine Students Access To Highly Paid Careers

Students from well-off backgrounds are still more likely to go to college than those who are disadvantaged, the first study of its kind has found.

collegestudentsinuniversitydoingexamUniversityLectureHallClassroomGeneric_large (1)

Almost one fifth (19%) of students come from an ‘affluent’ household, according to a wide-ranging study of the socio-economic make-up of almost every publicly funded Irish higher education institution.

Courses such as medicine, business, finance, and engineering all have the highest proportions of affluent students studying them, while programmes focused on agriculture, the environment, social work and childcare have the highest proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds enrolled.

Published by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) today, the study uses students’ home addresses and Census small area deprivation index scores to create a profile of higher education.

It Found:

  • University College Cork (UCC), University College Dublin (UCD), and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) have the lowest proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, at 5%. Trinity College Dublin (TCD) was not included in this study but will be from next year;
  • Dun Laoghaire IADT has the highest proportion of affluent students enroled at 35%, followed by UCD (34%), UCC and RCSI (both at 31%);
  • Just 3.5% of medicine enrolments come from “disadvantaged” backgrounds, and more than one third (36.6%) of medicine students are considered affluent;
  • A student’s socio-economic background remains a key indicator of their future salary; On average, students from affluent families are paid 30% more than their disadvantaged counterparts nine months after graduation.
  • While 15% of second-level students are defined as disadvantaged, just 10% of students in higher education are so classified;
  • There are still areas in Cork City, such as Blackpool, and in Limerick City, such as St Mary’s Park and O’Malley Park, that have relatively few students enroled in higher education;
  • Graduates from all backgrounds will almost always earn more than those who do not go to college, the study also finds.
Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD, speaking at Government Buildings today on Education. 10/10/2017 Picture by Fergal Phillips

Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, speaking at Government Buildings today on Education. 10/10/2017
Picture by Fergal Phillips

According to the HEA, most higher education institutions reflect the socio-economic make-up of their location; On average, students enroled at UCC have a home address 33km away from the university.

At UCD, enrolments tend to be concentrated in south Dublin.

At Letterkenny Institute of Technology , which has the highest proportion of disadvantaged students (24%), enrolments primarily come from Co Donegal.

This profile will help institutions develop more targeted approaches to widening access in their regions, according to Caitríona Ryan, head of access policy at the HEA.

She said:

“We know that our higher education institutions are committed to increasing equity of access to higher education and have made significant progress over time”.

HEA Research Report – Higher Education Spatial Socio-Economic Profile-Oct-2019 

(Source – Irish Examiner – Irish News – Jess Casey – 21/10/2019)

 Related Article:

Social Class And Postcode Determine Students Access To Highly Paid Careers

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