Wednesday 26 October 2016

Going to private school pays off in the race for third level

Published 25/01/2016 | 06:19

WHILE the majority of parents might appreciate the importance of education, not everyone has the financial wherewithal to pay the price for it.

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Which isn't a problem when one considers the ready availability of free schooling at primary and secondary level and the relatively low cost - for now at least - of going to college.

But what about those parents who choose to pay for their son or daughter to attend a private secondary school? What advantage, if any, does it give them in the competition for places in university and other third-level institutions upon completion of the Leaving Certificate?

Quite a big advantage, it seems.

An examination of the data illustrates how attendance at a fee-paying secondary school, as opposed to a non fee-paying school, increases a student's likelihood of progressing to university dramatically.

Indeed, in the years between 2009 and 2015, 60pc of students who sat their Leaving Certificate at fee-paying schools went on to study at a university, compared to 35pc of those who completed their education at a non-fee-paying school.

Although it should be borne in mind that there are far greater numbers of students attending non-fee-paying schools compared to fee-paying institutions, t his shouldn't have any real bearing on the percentages securing or opting for university places.

One logical explanation is that of demographics. With annual tuition costs ranging, for example, from €2,600 at the Royal School in Cavan to €7,900 at Sutton Park School in Dublin, it's patently clear that the cohort of parents who send their sons and daughters to these institutions enjoy significant earning power and attach a premium to education.

But that's not to say the parents of students from the public school system don't value academic achievement or that their children don't progress to third-level studies.

According to the statistics compiled by the Sunday Independent, a further 42pc of pupils from non-fee-paying schools entered institutes of technology and other colleges between 2009 and 2015.

The percentage of students from fee-paying schools entering these institutions in the same period was 31pc.

Between 2009 and 2015, 91pc of students from fee-paying schools went on to study in an Irish university or non-university third level institution.

The rates of progression to university and other third-level institutions for non-fee-paying schools may still be impressive, but they do fall short of the rates of private schools.

With 35pc of non-fee-paying students taking up places in university, 42pc advancing to another third-level institution in Ireland, a total of 77pc continued their education upon completion of their Leaving Certificate between 2009 and 2015.

While 23pc of students from non-fee-paying schools weren't placed in university or another third-level institution in this period, the percentage was just 9pc for fee paying schools.

If advancement to third-level study is the benchmark for success, these figures show the advantage of attending a fee-paying school.

It should be stressed that at least some of the difference in third-level take-up could be attributed to the personal choice of the students themselves not to pursue further education upon completion of their Leaving Certificate.

Sunday Independent

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