Sunday 21 January 2018

Half of our upwardly mobile students don't have a job

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

THEY all own a mobile phone, half of them don't work during term and more than a quarter visit social media website Facebook at least 10 times a day.

A comprehensive picture of the habits, behaviours and opinions of Irish students is provided in a new survey based on 4,000 responses, from north and south of the border.

The National Student Survey covers a wide range of matters about college and life itself, from course choices, quality of lecturers and exam cheating to sex, sexuality and smoking.

The mainly 18- to 23-year-olds are attending universities, institutes of technology and other third-level colleges as well as colleges of further education. Among the findings were that 29pc smoke, 49pc have never taken illegal drugs, 50pc have smoked marijuana and 9pc have used cocaine.

They all have mobile phones, including 76pc with smartphones, and 27pc are on Facebook at least 10 times daily.

More than 37pc don't buy online, but 53pc spend around €20 to €50 monthly on the internet, with 1pc splurging €200 or more.

About four in 10 are supported by their parents, almost one-third travel by car, while more than half enjoy a night out once a week, most spending an average of €20 to €60.

On a less positive note, some work more than 20 hours a week, some are living off loans and one-third have considered dropping out of college because of stress.

On sexuality, 90pc said they were heterosexual, with 5pc either bisexual or homosexual.

More than half – 56pc – professed to be Catholic, and the next biggest single grouping was atheist at 23pc.

While 4pc admitted having sexual intercourse with more than 20 people, the biggest cohort, 34pc, said they had had sex with two to five people, followed by 23pc who had had sex with one person.

When asked whether they had ever had a test for a sexually transmitted infection (STI), 83pc said "no", while 2pc said they had had three or more tests.

Almost one in three – 29pc – has been subjected to some form of bullying, most commonly mental bullying (23pc), compared with 4pc for physical bullying and 2pc for cyberbullying.

Half of students don't have a part-time job, but 7pc work more than 20 hours a week and 16pc said it interfered with their study "often" or "all the time".

When it came to college and course choices, 53pc took their own advice, with another 20pc saying that parents had the most influence. Some 58pc said the subjects they took at school prepared them for their college course, but 42pc didn't agree.

Most students were ultimately happy with their courses, with 69pc happy to do the same again.


A surprising 30pc were "unsure" whether their college offered any help to those who were having difficulty with a subject, although 59pc definitely knew that extra resources were available.

While 73pc said most lecturers were good, only 10pc thought all their lecturers were good.

The overwhelming majority, 88pc, said they never cheated in an exam or assignment, although 12pc admitted such a breach.

Irish Independent

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