Anyone who is interested in what and where people study will enjoy browsing through the recently published report from the Higher Education Authority, HEA Key Facts and Figures 2010/2011.
The 136-page report provides what it calls a 'picture by numbers' of the sector, highlighting key trends for the year as well as information on new entrants to the sector; enrolments; graduate data; student details, and socio-economic, ethnic/cultural and disability data which forms an invaluable tool in increasing access to higher education by under-represented groups.
The higher education sector saw an increase of nearly 4pc in overall undergraduate enrolments from the previous year (2009/10).
The report also shows an overall increase in PhD research enrolments in the past few years, with the numbers of full-time enrolments in such programmes increasing by 65pc since 2006/07. The 2010/11 figures show a slight decline for postgraduate students overall.
In the university sector, there were 114,807 full and part-time students overall, while the institute of technology sector had 78,380 full and part-time students.
The report yields interesting figures on mature students in higher education. In 2010/11, 15pc (or 5,944) of new full-time undergraduate entrants were mature students (ie, aged 23 years or over), while 92pc (1,484) of part-time undergraduates are 'matures'.
These figures represent an increase of 36pc of full-time and 11pc of part-time mature students between 2007/08 and 2010/11.
So what do most people study? The figures show the biggest numbers of full-time undergraduates (24.8pc) are enrolled on social science, business and law courses, while 18.4pc are enrolled in arts/humanities courses. At postgraduate level, social science, business and law courses also heads the list, with science the next largest field of study, accounting for 20.3pc of all enrolments.
Full-time undergraduates are made up of 49.1pc male and 50.9pc female.
Amongst 40,749 new entrants to higher education in 2010/11, 32,372 accepted places on Level 8 Honours degree programmes. There are significant gender differences in fields of study.
Open days: l Today, Ballsbridge College of Further Education, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, holds a special enrolment day, which allows students to guarantee their place on their chosen course by enrolling early. Special enrolment days also offer the opportunity for prospective students to discuss any questions they might have about the courses. l Bray Institute of Further Education, Novara Avenue, Bray Co Wicklow has an open day today) from 1.30pm-4pm. l St Sheelan's College of Further Education, Templemore, Co Tipperary hosts its open day today from 11.30am-3.30pm. l Stillorgan College of Further Education, Stillorgan, Co Dublin also hosts an open day, including an art exhibition, today from 10am-3.00pm. l Today is the closing date for applications to courses next autumn in one of the country's largest FE colleges, Ballyfermot College of Education, Ballyfermot, Dublin 20. l Also today, a special workshop is taking place in UCD's Agriculture and Food Science Centre from 11am for those considering non-standard entry or progression into UCD Agriculture, Food and Nutrition courses. Registration is required for this event. Similar events will take place for Transition Year students tomorrow and Friday. l NUI Galway offers another in its series of information evenings for prospective students, mature students, parents and guidance counsellors from 7pm-9pm tomorrow in the Everglades Hotel, Derry. l Dublin Business School, Aungier St, Dublin 2, offers an open evening dedicated to its postgraduate courses, next Tuesday March 13, from 5pm-7pm.