News School League Tables

Sunday 22 April 2018

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

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

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

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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