Friday 9 December 2016

Patrick Prendergast: One university size does not fit all

Both students and the country are badly served by our obsession with the CAO points race, writes Patrick Prendergast

Patrick Prendergast

Published 31/01/2016 | 02:30

Trinity College Dublin
Trinity College Dublin

The deadline for CAO applications is tomorrow at 5.15pm. I have no doubt that record numbers will apply and that next autumn the universities, institutes of technology and other colleges will be bulging at the seams with eager young students.

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Unfortunately, one in six of them won't make it into second year. That's some 7,000 young people, the equivalent size of many small towns in Ireland. Dropping out of college is not a peculiarly Irish phenomenon as no country has 100pc college retention rates. However, our figures are a cause for concern.

There is an economic cost, about €65m per year, but the real cost is to the students themselves in terms of disappointment and missed opportunities. Our drop-out rates raise a host of questions which sprang to mind when I attended the launch of the Government's new National Skills Strategy on Wednesday.

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