Study finds few students in further education go on to college

Date Uploaded: 26/10/2016

Research shows lack of transparency over third level places for students in training courses


Students in further education and training courses face significant barriers progressing on to third level, new research shows.


This is despite a Government policy of increasing the number of students who have completed training or post-Leaving Cert courses in colleges and universities.


Research presented to a conference on Friday indicates there is a lack of transparency over the number of places reserved in higher education for students who have completed training courses.


In addition, some further education providers note that access to places in universities is often based on a “lottery”, even where candidates meet the entry criteria.


The findings were discussed at a conference in the Helix at Dublin City University organised by the Further Education Training to Higher Education Regional Network, which includes education providers and State agencies.


The Higher Education Authority’s interim chief executive Dr Anne Looney said more work was needed to signpost pathways into higher education beyond the CAO route.


“For school leavers in particular, it is important to show that a further education course can be a way in to higher education and can provide a foundation for doing really well in that higher education course and beyond, in work or further studies,” she said.


“There is a role for all stakeholders in promoting the further education sector, not only as the ‘alternative’ to direct entry, but as a first choice for students who want more time to decide on a higher education option, who want to develop some of the skills needed to succeed in higher education, or who want a more supported transition to independent study.”



Rose Ryan, chair of the network and director of access at Maynooth University, said there was a Government-backed target of ensuring 10 per cent of students progress from further education and training to higher education by 2019.


However, research shows there is a lack of reliable data to measure progression rates or student success once they reached college or university.


She said the network was working to identify the barriers and propose appropriate and feasible solutions.


“Today’s conference helps us co-operatively develop plans that lead to fair and equal access, transfer and progression opportunities for learners,” she said.


Some of the barriers highlighted in the research included a lack of trust by some higher education institutions regarding the quality of graduates in further education.


There were also widely varying practices regarding entry routes into colleges or universities from the further education and training sector.


It indicates that most post-Leaving Cert courses were the main entry route into higher education from the further education sector.


Traineeships and apprenticeships were much less likely to result in students going on to college.


“Concern has been aired regarding a perceived lack of progression from most training provision to higher education, which merits careful examination,” the report by the network notes.


“Higher education institutions seeking talent need to be aware of the full range of programmes offering linked awards, and to examine such programmes and explore articulation in ways similar to that associated with some post-Leaving Cert programmes.”


Journalist: Carl O'Brien

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