Computer science college courses experience the highest drop-out rate, with 27pc of these students leaving within their first year, a HEA study has found.
The study, which analysed the rate of course progression between the academic years of 2007/08 to 2008/09, found that 85pc of Irish students progress from first year to second year, which compares favourably with other countries’ rates.
“Our higher institutions have done well to retain, and in some cases improve, high levels of retention of students over the past decade, even as the numbers have soared,” Tom Boland, chief executive of the HEA, said.
However, Boland said the study shows particular areas of vulnerability, particularly “in the case of young men who take information technology/engineering programmes in institutes of technology.”
Computer science undergraduate courses had the lowest rate of progression, with 27pc of students dropping out within the first year.
Engineering was third in terms of drop-out rates, with 20pc of students leaving before second year. Science tied with the arts/humanities/business sector, with a 14pc drop-out rate.
Subjects with fewest drop outs
The courses with the least amount of drop outs were medicine, at only 2pc, followed by law, at 3pc.
The study noted that prior educational attainment is heavily linked to drop-out rates, with Leaving Certificate maths being the subject most strongly linked to successful progression.
Students with low levels of achievement in maths are most likely to drop out of a science or technology course.
Educational attainment outweighs all other factors linked to drop-out rates, including gender, social class and choice of education institution in regards to whether a student will complete their course or not.
The progression rate of universities was 91pc and in institutes of technologies, it was 84pc on level 8 courses.
Level 6 or 7 courses in ITs found that one in four students failed to progress, again due to educational attainment.
Men are marginally more likely to drop out than women, with 17pc of males dropping out compared to 13pc of females.