Proximity to college raises chances of disadvantaged going

Date Uploaded: 25/04/2016

Local access programmes credited with boosting numbers in Dublin courses


Students in relatively disadvantaged areas of the capital are more likely to go on to third-level if they live close to a college, new figures suggest.

A breakdown of student grant data shows higher participation rates in the Blanchardstown and Tallaght areas, which have institutes of technology.

The proportion of grant-holders in other relatively disadvantaged areas of the city is significantly less.

For example, there are low numbers of school leavers securing college grants in relatively disadvantaged areas such as Dublin 10 (covering Ballyfermot) and Dublin 17 (including Coolock and Darndale), according to figures from Student Universal Support Ireland (Susi).

Both postal districts each accounted for just 2 per cent of grant holders in the Dublin area, according to a breakdown of grant allocations for the current academic year released to The Irish Times.

By contrast, the Dublin 24 postal district (which covers Tallaght) and Dublin 15 area (which covers Blanchardstown) each accounted for 10 per cent of grant holders.

Access programmes

Colleges in both areas say local access programmes play a key role in increasing higher education participation rates. This activity includes close links with primary schools and study supports for Leaving Cert students in secondary schools .

Low participation rates at third level in some areas are a major concern for policymakers, who are seeking to narrow the participation gap.

While more than 90 per cent of school leavers in affluent areas such as Donnybrook progress to third level, this falls to about 16 per cent in deprived areas such as Darndale.

The Government’s national access plan aims to increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds attending third level by 1,500 over the next three years.

Overall, the grant data for the academic year shows the Co Dublin area – which covers areas outside the city boundaries – accounted for most grant holders (27 per cent).

Not surprisingly, there were relatively few successful grant applications from more affluent areas such as Dublin 6 (1 per cent) and Dublin 4 (1 per cent).

Students in the greater Dublin area are less likely to get a student grant than counterparts in the rest of the country.

While most Dublin students who applied for grants were successful (74 per cent), this was the joint-lowest success rate along with Co Kildare.

Students were more likely to be successful in Counties Monaghan and Wexford (82 per cent), Leitrim and Roscommon (81 per cent) and Donegal(80 per cent).

Family income is the main basis on which students are considered eligible, though factors such as students’ holiday earnings may be taken into account.

Income thresholds start from just under €23,000, depending on the number of children in a family and the number attending third level.

Students may be entitled to grants covering the student registration fee, along with a maintenance grant, depending on individual circumstances.

In the current academic year, Susi processed a record 108,000 applications with in excess of 83,000 students awarded grants. It is expected that the number of applications for the upcoming academic year will exceed 110,000.

The increase is linked to the full phasing out of responsibility for grant applications for local authorities and VECs (now Education and Training Boards). The move to a central processing agency, begun several years ago, aims to eliminate duplication in the work of more than 60 different agencies.


Journalist: Carl O'Brien

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