Non-progression rates among first year students continue to trend downward

Non-progression rates among first-year students in Higher Education into the following academic year are continuing to trend slowly downwards from 16% almost ten years ago to just 9% among new entrants in 2019/20.

New data, released by the Higher Education Authority, shows that in the last year alone, the non-progression rate had dropped from 12% to 9%.

The latest figures relate to the first cohort of students impacted by Covid-19 in the academic year 2019/20. As such, more years of data is required to fully understand the impact over time and the overall trajectory of non-progression rates in Irish higher education institutions.

The purpose of this statistical data is to identify the overall rate of non-progression to enable identification of cohorts of students with a high risk of non-progression.

The data reveals that:

• In 2018/19, the non-progression rate was 12%. In 2019/20, this has dropped to 9%, representing a 3-percentage point improvement in non-progression;

• Services has the highest non-progression rate, at 16%. This is followed by ICT, at 15%, and Engineering, Manufacturing & Construction at 13%. Education has the lowest non-progression rate, at 3%.

• Between 2018/19 and 2019/20, Services has seen the largest improvement in their non-progression rate, from 22% in 2018/19, down to 16% in 2019/20.

• Internationally domiciled students saw an increase in their non-progression rate, from 11% in 2018/19 to 13% in 2019/20. Meanwhile, non-progression rates improved for Irish-domiciled students (12% in 2018/19; 9% in 2019/20).

• Non-progression rates are highest amongst disadvantaged students (12%), and lowest amongst affluent students (7%). When comparing like-for-like students, it is evident that differences in Leaving Certificate attainment between disadvantaged and affluent students largely explain these differences.

• In 2019/20, females had a non-progression rate of 7%, while males had a non-progression rate of 11%. When comparing like-for-like students, the non-progression gap reduces.